When I left Portland almost a year ago, I officially went on what the church calls “Voluntary leave of absence.” This basically means that I am taking a break from working in the church world for a bit without losing my credentials, my retirement, my connection and am able to return to my career when all is approved for me to come back at the right time. I knew this was the right thing for me to do. Besides the move to Berlin, I could also feel something in me that could easily have turned into burn out. I needed space from the system for a number of reasons.
I expected to come to Berlin and perhaps work in a church in a mini job but also have space to write about my Camino experience and the theology that I am discovering. I expected to learn German but also to still take that space away from systems of church.
What I found throughout the months is there is still a hunger for spiritual connection and gathering of community that I haven’t really found here. Plus there are people who keep nudging me to create that space, including the owners of a café around the corner who believe in this idea so much that they gave me my own set of keys in order to gather people together in their space after hours. I kept pushing this idea because I am on leave and because of travels, etc but it finally became something I just had to do when I returned from my trip to the states in January and two weeks ago today we launched our first gathering of “Hom Church.” I promised this burgeoning community that I would facilitate the space and time every other week at 7:30pm in this café (Hom on Wildenbruchplatz) for a little while to see if this is what we should do.
Here’s the thing….starting something new like this is really frickin hard. This time around in the new church start department I really have no financial backing and no connection to a system. Which is good and bad. AND I am finding that in Berlin even more than Portland, people seem to like the idea of something existing but bail pretty easily on the day of for other things. These are totally legit things by the way but from this position it is harder to get excited about something that I am voluntarily putting a whole lot of time and effort into for people to bail on….ya know?
On the other side, I have taken almost a year of leave and when the first gathering worked and felt intentional and important, I had forgotten how great it feels to fulfill call in that way. Seven people gathered and spoke deeply and intentionally. They gathered and prayed together and discussed sacred text. It was beautiful and meaningful.
So I find myself hours before our second ever gathering with all sorts of mixed emotions which can only be because of starting something new AND in a foreign land without all of my go to resources AND feeling as though it is deeply needed/wanted BUT feeling as though this stuff is hard and perhaps I am on leave….it is just some of the many musings of someone in a new place trying to start a new thing. It isn’t all wonderful glowy light but it is what it is.