by Rev. Dr. Diane Weible, Conference Minister
It is good to be back with all of you. My sabbatical was wonderful and gave me a chance to do two things that have been transformative for me: visiting family and friends and finding time to reflect.
Visiting my children, my parents, and treasured friends was wonderful and included many sacred moments that I will hold for a very long time.
The second, a time to reflect, however, is the accomplishment that surprised me. I finally had the space to work on the kind of mindfulness practice I have wanted to create for a very long time. The openness of my schedule invited me to a new awareness of how much more I can do and how better present I can be if I take time to ground myself each morning and take time to unwind each night. I am continuing this practice even as my schedule starts to fill again and am discovering that while a time to focus and a time to wind down anchors me, they are bookends for smaller practices through the day where I breathe deep and breathe into being fully present. Along with that learning has come the understanding of the importance of witnessing what is happening in my body in moments of tension, sadness, joy, confusion, peace. Getting out of my head and listening to my body often tells me more about what is really going on than my thoughts alone allow.
In my conversations with staff and Conference leaders this week, I have heard that while I was away, there were really good conversations about the importance of focusing on the ministry that we need in the moment and be realistic about what may be an important idea but not something that we have the capacity or energy for in the moment. I know my tendency is I want to do everything and, realistically, that is not possible. Some things are really great ideas but if the time is not right and the resources (human and other) and energy to make it happen are not present in community, it is not that it is a bad idea, but that the time is not right for the collective energy. I’ve heard in the last few days something that really resonated with me: Don’t let my task list drive my ministry work but allow the ministry work for which this is the right time to drive my task list.
This is a really important observation for me personally because one thing I noticed prior to my sabbatical is that I was often focused on emptying my inbox and checking off my to do list because I thought that was what was needed from me in my desire to be relational. And, unfortunately, that also meant that sometimes it prevented me from engaging in ministry with mindfulness and presence in the way that really is relational. There are so many hours in a day and choices have to be made about what has to be let go of to make room for other things.
I am still working on what all of this looks like as I return to my role as Conference Minister. Relationships are so important to me that I know making choices will take time because it may, at first, feel counterintuitive to being relational. Letting go of answering every email may be hard; inviting someone to give me a call to discuss something rather than trying to explain all that I am thinking in the moment in an email may feel disconnected from what I think I should be doing; and not trying to resolve every issue or concern by myself may feel like I’m shirking my duty. And, all those things are important in letting go and letting Spirit lead this Conference in the sacred ministry that is most needed in the moment. I look forward to your support and partnership in a new chapter in ministry for the Conference in such a time as this.