One mystery to me, in the formation of spiritual community, is the experience of ebb and flow. Sometimes we, at Circle of Grace, engage with enthusiasm and excitement and at other times, we are ebbing and it seems like only a few of us straggle in on Sundays - the faithful, the hurting or the urgently seeking.
The unfortunate thing is, as pastor, those ebbing times affect my energy and creativity. My dark side blames myself and assumes more responsibility than is healthy. When we ebb there are things I don't do: calls I don't make, plans I don't escort to fruition, sermons I recycle rather than engage the text in a meaningful way while holding the community in prayer. I get discouraged and my personal energy ebbs. It is a chicken and egg question. Do my actions (or lack thereof) contribute to the ebb or are they a response to the ebb? Or both? Or is it all a viscous cycle?
Either way, in times of ebbing, I find myself the least faithful. My prayer life suffers. My sermon preparation suffers. I question my ministry. Has Godde truly called me to this work or is this all about me?
I don't have answers to any of these questions. Well, I do know it is not all about me. And I do recognize my dark side (for those familiar with the enneagram I am an almost redeemed four). My internal conversation in ebbing times is my struggle with my dark side: doubt, fear, hopelessness.
I am not proud of any of this but I need and want to be honest. This blog is about the good and the bad of creating and participating in christian, feminist, ecumenical, spiritual community. I am sure I am not the only one among us who wrestles with this. Several blog postings back I talked about Circle of Grace as an elephant orphanage. It is certainly one of our calls. The down side of it is letting go of people who have become spiritual family when they return to their tribe. It is another time we ebb.
Recently, in keeping with our feminist commitment, council members have taken on even more responsibilities. Everyone is on a learning curve. I, personally, have been on a learning curve for the past seventeen years. As we transition in our collective and personal responsibilities things get lost or left undone. When things are lost or left undone, we ebb. We are a small community. We are an intentional community. And in our seventeen years there have been many times of both ebbing and flowing. Looking back, all the ebbing and flowing seems organic. But living through times of ebbing is always a challenge and never feels good.
Frankly, I'm ready for some flowing.