By Linda Lehman Thomas
It’s 5:18 a.m. and I’ve lain awake in bed for over an hour, wrestling with myself. I awoke with the thought that, “It’s time.” Time for what?
Yesterday was the open house celebration for the expansion of Pathways Retreat. This little retreat center that emerged from a spiritual friendship—which began as a seminary class requirement—is now going “public.” The text for the service yesterday was from The Message:
…You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.
God is not a secret to be kept.
We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.
If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you
under a bucket, do you?
I’m putting you on a light stand.
Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine!
Keep open house; be generous with your lives.
By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God. (Matt. 5.14-16)
During the service I shared how years ago the executive board consulted with Stanley Kropf about expansion and the question that stayed with us from that encounter was, “Is this a private or public ministry?” In other words, is Pathways a private place for Julie and I to do ministry with a small group of people or is it a public ministry, involving the larger community? The answer to this question has many ramifications: legal, organizational and financial, to name a few.
As the board listened and discerned, we sensed the latter: this was to be public. So we took a next step by inviting several spiritual directors to be associated with Pathways. We didn’t go looking for spiritual directors who needed a home. Rather, when we looked around us they were already there, waiting alongside the path. So now we had more support, both administrative and ministry support, to go public.
The next step was clear. More physical space was needed to make room for more people. Much to our astonishment, the design for this space became clear and finances were provided by the generosity of many individuals, churches, businesses, and a grant. So, yesterday Julie and I said good-bye to our private ministry and acknowledged that we’re going public with this – as public as a city on a hill. It’s time and we’re ready.
I’m not awake in the wee hours of the morning wrestling with this. No, rather, I’m wrestling with the idea that this means it’s time for me to personally go public as well. I sense I am called to share my thoughts along the way. These thoughts are sometimes quite entertaining to me, but for all of my life have been kept inside.
This idea is scary and feels rather presumptuous. I’m aware of a fluttering anxiety in my stomach, and yet I can’t sleep because the deepest part of me knows it’s time for this too. So this blog starts today, the first day of Pathways Retreat’s going public. Something is right about it. Here we go and we’ll see what it becomes…