At our ministers' so-called "retreat" last week (so-called because we work hard, rather than loaf), we tackled the questions about covenant inherent in the larger question "Whose are We?" We reflected on the promises that we make to those with whom we are in relationship: our Source, our Calling, the Community we serve, and our Colleagues.
These were productive reflections for me, as we conversed in triads about these promises, the quality of the relationships and the quality of the covenants we have formed. I journalled about each session and made a list of what I saw about myself. I list some of those things here.
• I see my Source as God/Higher Power/the Power beyond human power/Love.
• I am tentative in my trust of Love---from my Source and from other humans.
• I have promised to love (Source, other humans particularly family, friends, congregants) and I am faithful to that promise, with some lapses.
• I keep on professing love even when I don't feel consumed by it. I feel grateful for the love I hope and believe is there and for the opportunity to express love.
• The promise to love my Source and to be loved by my Source in return is the foundation of my covenant with that Source, even when I am doubtful.
• I have felt called to serve others and God in that way since I was a teenager.
• I have followed that call with a sense of urgency and singlemindedness, working in a variety of helping professions from college graduation until the present time.
• My call continues to be to serve, then, now, and until my life ends.
• Even though I may rest for a time, at retirement, my ongoing call is to serve.
• I have not ever had second thoughts about my call---no doubts, very few barriers.
• I promised to love and to care for and to serve my constituents---clients, kids, congregants, church, institution---and have done so to the best of my ability.
• My relationships with the people I serve are best when I collaborate with them in service---service WITH, not just service to.
• I have promised to trust the people I serve and though there have been some disappointments, this feels right.
• My role models for collegial relationships have been up and down: my dad and the other pastor in Athena (contentious); my dad with another pastor in Goldendale (good); MDD colleagues (gossipy and tense at times); PNW colleagues (strict but kind).
• I made some serious mistakes in the area of collegial relationships, did penance, made amends, as I understood what pain I'd caused.
• I am very careful now to keep my covenant and relationships with colleagues as clean and open as possible.
• I do feel very connected to many colleagues, but not to all.
• Those to whom I feel less connected are those whose relationships are clearly more aligned with others and are less friendly to me. (Not unfriendly, just more distant.)
This was a valuable exercise. Since I'm preaching on the question "Whose Are We?" on November 6, I am figuring out how to relate my new understandings to the needs of my congregation. Wish me luck!