Well here we are, the 1st September is upon us, and in Methodism that means a new church year. I start it in the strangeness of being “laid aside” ( read our Covenant prayer for context), and while I am working towards a phased return to work I am not there yet, and have a meeting with occupational health to discuss what a return to work after a prolonged illness looks like.
This has been a very strange and disorienting time within what is a strange and disorienting time, I find myself in the rather peculiar position of moving from knowing nothing, to knowing bits and pieces, which I must confess feels more anxiety inducing than knowing nothing. Right now I have nothing to say and nothing to share. In some senses it feels like Holy Saturday, that strange and empty day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday where there is nothing to be done, so I wait.
I wait, and I don’t wait alone, I wait with my doubts and my fears and my questions, and there is nothing to distract me from them, they wake me up in the night and they whisper over and over during the day reminding me of my faults and flaws and introducing wild scenarios of strange and probably unlikely situations, but they are vivid in my minds eye. This is a lonely place, lonely because my friends and family mostly live elsewhere, and the strangeness of these strange times has meant much less contact than usual.
I ask myself if I am wrong to share this, I have been told before now that I should only share good news, and at one point was told that “nobody wants a depressed minister”, and yet I also know that I am not the only one who has ever been in this position, and that the constant clamour for good news and positive messages can be wearing in itself when you are in a dark or shadowed space.
I find myself in a shadowed space, I am not depressed, but I am uncertain, I am uncertain about both my short-term and my long-term future, so I am having to learn to live in the moment and from moment to moment, in this moment I choose to share my story. It is not a story of doom and gloom, but rather a story of possibility, but a possibility that in this moment I can neither wonder about or work towards yet. Yet, is the key word here, for I will return to work, and I do have a future, but now is not a time for decision making, especially when it may come at the behest of the voices in my head and the strange scenarios conjured up by my imagination.
So, despite my dis-ease I am choosing to receive this time as a gift, a gift of waiting, not even of anticipating. I have lamented, I have berated myself, I have faced regrets over decisions and broken relationships, in the midst of all of this I have tried to remind myself of the good stuff, but I am much better at wallowing if I am honest, and I cry with the psalmist “how long oh Lord”.
On this day of new beginning I pray for those like me who are stuck, who have nowhere to go and nothing to do. I say this as I prepare to move across the city so I appreciate the irony of my words, but I will not be moving with the energy that new starts often bring and demand. So I will wait, I will watch and wait. And I hold to the promises that rise in my heart;
Be still and know that I am God.
I know the plans I have for you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.