13 June 2010

Bless me, friends, for I am homesick...

A couple of other bloggers are talking about sin and reconciliation today, and as I read and pondered, the familiar opening to the Rite of Penance and Reconciliation came to mind, except it began with what I put in the subject line: I am homesick!

Not homesick for home because that's where I am right now, typing away. So homesick for what? It took a few minutes to figure it out, but here it is: I am homesick for ministry.

Three Sundays have passed since I said my goodbyes at the prison. I went to my home parish the first Sunday. I was at my sister's in Oregon last week. Today, I pulled the blankets over my head and went back to sleep.

I have finally moved the four boxes of things I brought home from work into the office space, freeing up the floor in the living room. I'll go through them tonight; to file or to toss will be the question. (Given the fact that it has been 12 years since I left parish work, and that there are still at least four of those boxes jammed into a closet after a move where I tossed out 75 percent of what I owned, this is a major attempt on my part to start a new job with far less clutter than I could.)

I am missing the conversations I had with the men I worked with, usually something that began simply enough. "How are you?" "Fine." "Really? You're not looking fine." "Well, actually---" and we'd head for my office and the box of tissues and close the door.

"I just stopped in to tell you that I passed my GED." "Where are my gold stars when I need them? That's terrific!"

"Could I talk to you for a minute? I don't want to take up your time." "It's your time. That's why I'm here."

I miss preaching. I miss saying things that build a sense of connection and recognition, I miss the arched eyebrows and suppressed laughter when I nail something that more than a few people have been thinking. I miss the profound silence of a room full of 70 people bending their heads in prayer. I miss the raggedy band who come forward for communion with their various responses: A-MEN, Sister! Thank you. Glory to God. And also with you. Peace, Sister. What am I supposed to do now? (Eat it, I say.)

I miss the grace-full moments that are always a surprise, even as I always expect that God will provide.

The upside to all of this is that I will be starting work on Wednesday at the jail in downtown Seattle. Time to brush up on why I do ministry and how I do it.

You are a beloved child of God.
And so is everyone else you meet.

Help me, help me, help me.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
(with thanks to author Anne Lamott)

I'm grateful for all the people who share their ministries in so many different ways with so many different people. In a world aching for God's touch, what a reason to celebrate the gifts of all God's people.


Allison said...

So beautiful Sharon.

Anonymous said...

terrific. I pray you find those moments at the King County Jail.

Sherry Peyton said...

Oh Shannon, you say so much more than you realize. Unspoken is the fact that you truly love what you do, a feat most people never pull off. It thus speaks that you are exactly where God would have you. I so get the urge to simplify. It seems that some of us as we age realize that somehow it is tied to happiness. I'm not sure how yet, but getting to the essentials seems more important. A blog post in there somewhere--thanks for giving me a peek.

allie said...

Bless you Shannon! Your new friends in the Seattle jail are in for a wonderful treat! I totally understand the missing the jail and the special men who live there. We volunteered in prison ministry (a State Prison) for 35 yrs in a weekly group and only stopped because we moved to another state. I have finally admitted that at almost 75 it is time for a different chapter in my life and have not started in prison work here. However, we really do miss the work and the gracefilled moments that always occurred in totally unexpected ways. We were the ones who benefited the most - not the inmates I am sure. I still miss my men! God bless you in this next chapter in your life.

claire said...

Shannon, you seem to be experiencing the empty nest with the exit shock (just made that one up).

I'm looking forward to finding out how your next ministry is going to be.

I have a hunch you're going to keep the guys from your previous job in your heart and mind for a long long time.


Fran said...

I am late to this but so moved... I have not been around but have kept you in my prayers. Look forward to hearing more- and about the lack of air!