Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Spiritual Odyssey

One of the traditions in many UU ministers' chapters is the sharing of one's spiritual odyssey with one's colleagues, often done at one of the retreats of the chapter. Our group here in the Pacific Northwest District meets three times a year: in the fall, at the winter General Meeting of the district, and in the spring. At each retreat, one colleague shares his or her spiritual odyssey, their spiritual life's journey, during an evening reserved for that particular purpose. Whose turn it is depends on one's seniority in the district, the date when one arrived in the district; a chronological list is kept of when each person came to the PNWD to serve a congregation.

I learned last spring that my turn would be at the spring retreat in 2008. I began serving a congregation in this district on August 1, 1999, and by the time I offer my odyssey, I will have been in this district for almost nine years. I can hardly believe that it's actually my turn coming up; I still feel like such a rookie in some ways.

For me, recounting my life's history and the events and circumstances that have shaped my journey into ministry is something I am relishing for more than one reason. Not only will I present a one-hour version of my life to my colleagues next April, but I will leave my son and my siblings a detailed record of what I feel has been important about my journey, why I made the decisions I did, and how those decisions have landed me where I am---a Unitarian Universalist minister serving a small thriving island congregation.

So I started writing it on Thanksgiving Day, as I was reflecting on the many joys of my life (not the least of which was that someone else was roasting the turkey and I only had to show up with the rolls). It will be way too long to post; it's already seven single-spaced pages and I've barely gotten to my high school years.

But I will offer it to my son and sibs when it's finished, and they'll get the long version, in print. They can read it or toss it, depending on their mood. But my mother did this for us, as best she could as she got older and less able to write. For some of the earliest years, I have relied on her account of my parents' life together, and I am aiming for a document that includes some of that history plus what I think have been the most influential events and circumstances of my life.

Today I have a lunch date with a couple from the church; we are planning our upcoming service auction and I suggested we include a chili cookoff as part of the festivities, so we're getting started on that planning. And this evening, congregants will gather here at my house for our third Conversation on the UU Sources. We're playing the game Enlighten for a little while, to get people jazzed up, and then we'll discuss what we see as being the importance of world religions to Unitarian Universalism.

It's shaping up to be a good day. Loosy just gave Maxie a tentative lick with her ever-ready grooming tongue (though she quickly realized it was the despised kitten she was grooming and got a very odd look on her face); now they are both on top of me---Loosy on my lap purring away, secure in the knowledge that she usurped Maxie's place, while Maxie the Magnificent roosts on my shoulder. Lily is sleeping near the heat vent, having worn herself out by chasing Max earlier this morning. Ahh, many thanks for it all, Universe!

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