The clergy from the seven Episcopal churches in our area gather about once a month for prayer and fellowship that includes a check in with each of us about what is new or changing in our lives. We met last week, and when it was my turn to say something, I talked about my growing recognition of how disconnected I have become from the day to day life of the diocese.
Retired for over six years, no longer serving on diocesan boards or committees, and never having felt the need to be in on every tidbit of news and rumor that floats around, I have discovered that I also don’t know some of the new clergy, and am not a part of the circles of friendship into which they have entered. Oddly enough my absence has not been missed. Whatever leadership or wisdom I once offered has been easily replaced by very competent others.
For example, I spent a good deal of my adult life as an expert in organization development, leading workshops and offering courses to help congregations through difficult times. A whole new cadre of well trained folks have taken over with their own way of doing things, and it’s a good way. They are better organized and have a better plan for getting things done than I ever had. Moreover, they are living into the now of what for me are mostly memories.
Once in the center of things, I now observe them from the fringe, if not the outside. It’s a little disorienting. It is a loss and I do feel it. I don’t want it back. I want to stay involved, but not plugged in.
I may be disconnected from the daily life of the diocese, but not disconnected from life, just plugged in somewhere else. I serve on boards and commissions here in town. An important part of my ministry is working with the fire department and coroner’s office. The little parish I serve is pure joy. We travel more than ever, and stay away longer. We take delight in the music and art that surrounds us in our home and in the community. I take pleasure in being helpful to the trickle of clergy, and a few others, who seek me out. My wife and I play a lot more, often together, sometimes on our own, and always taking delight in what each other is doing.
I wonder what it’s like for others. How hard is it to become disconnected from what was once the core of every day life? How hard is it to discover that, yes, you can be replaced, and not only replaced but improved upon? How hard is it to become connected in new ways and in different place?
As for me and my house; we have places to go, people to see, things to do.