By Linford and Mary Etta King, Transitional Conference Ministers
On a warm, lovely day on April 21, pastors and other leaders (17 people) from Mountain States met at the Franciscan Retreat Center in Colorado Springs for a day of rest and solitude. Our friends from Mexico, Rebeca and Fernando, were with us too. It was great becoming acquainted with them.
Our opening included listening to a morning Psalm, a song and a prayer. We took time to check in with each other asking, “How do you come?” Or, “How is it with your soul?” as John Wesley learned to ask those who came to him. This allows us to identify what is going on in our hearts and minds, and releasing it, at least for a time. Following these spiritual practices, we had personal time to go outdoors or to stay inside in order to meditate and pray. We gathered together after the personal time to hear from each other, and share what we noticed in the quiet.
Some things we observed: our faith journeys do not look alike; the practice of being quiet is more appealing to some and less to others; God speaks to us in unique ways which we learn to recognize; most all, the participants seemed to gain something from this day.
Self-care, prayer and rest were stated goals for the day. We ask, “When do care-givers receive care for themselves?” Too often we say we can’t afford the time to take a day of prayer because we have too much to do. But this is a good sign that it is needed. We need to take time away as Jesus often did, going out to the mountain to pray, to get away from the crowd and to spend time with his Father. Perhaps when we discipline ourselves to take time away to be refreshed, we will be able to return to our tasks with more intentionality and efficiency.
It was interesting that this day was designated as a “quiet day apart” and it began as that. However, in the afternoon the noise of the airplanes from the Air Force Academy as well as the noises of the arborists chipping limbs became distractions, some things that invited us to go deeper into the heart of God.
Finally, we need to remind ourselves that we as pastors, chaplains, and other spiritual leaders are not indispensable. We desire to rest and watch Jesus in order to carry the light and easy yoke. Ask your pastor or spiritual guide when the last time was he/she took time away for self-care. Encourage them to spend time regularly in prayer in an environment that will feed their souls.