When I took my leave of absence and packed my few bags and flew across the world to start this adventure, I had some goals in mind:
- Pursuing new love – this was the big leap into seeing how this new love would work for us in person, spanning worlds and time zones to day to day life.
- Healing first and foremost – healing from broken relationships and I dove into my new relationship and especially healing from the church systems. I haven’t really written publicly about all that I have been healing from the church world but it seems it is the most present in my healing journey.
- Writing a book about theology of place that is framed by my Camino experience
- After a time of rest, jumping back into the work world hopefully in Germany but preparing to return to the states and discerning what that might look like.
After a year and a few months, I am constantly realizing that life is really not about linear progress and terms. I forgot to calculate a few things in this process…
- Moving your whole life to a different country is exhausting and so sometimes just moving through the day can be a task in and of itself which means the creative energy for that day is not flooding onto the page. Sometimes unpacking or learning about different systems or establishing community and new relationships are the things that take the creative energy.
- Starting putting pen to page is really challenging! I have been reading and exploring prompts. I have been learning about the process and discerning exactly what I want to say and still starting the actually Chapter 1 is really really hard and takes a lot more prep than I thought it would.
- Goals actually start to create more goals! I find myself healing through different processes that create other ideas of what I would like to do in the world of theology…could it be a podcast? It might! Could it be starting a new little community? Turns out the Holy Spirit is super funny and creates even when you say you are on leave! Could it be connecting to the world differently but using my skills to do so?
- Work depends on visas and availability in your skill set. I wasn’t thinking that I couldn’t get a job after I got a visa that might look like my passions. My visa is a freelance visa in churches which is oddly limiting in specific ways. So then what does work and productivity and livelihood look like?
So in this pursuit of connecting to number 3 and number 4 I thought through a number of things…
- Time to try things and learn about things. If I can’t work in the traditional ways, what is out there for me that would continue the kingdom of God on earth and feels like work. Also, what could I do that might help me gain a little income and would be acceptable in the eyes of my visa?
- Can I look at my goals and work in a different way that allows me to see theology from different places? Can I start to move forward now that I have moved into this space after a year? Can I rely on my people to come along with me in the trying? what does a podcast Courtney style look like? How can I talk more about what I am doing to get interested? You tube channel? What would that look like?
- Overall, what are people connecting to and how can I connect to them?
I saw a need. A nannying need and I put my name and info out there and had a plethora of mostly moms respond to me. They wanted to meet with me to talk about their kiddos and I decided to meet with just about anyone who wanted to interview me. I am in a position now that I can pick and choose what works for me at this point in my life. I discovered as I met with these women mostly that they chose me because I am a little older and therefore a little less flap able, and I care deeply about children and that shines through. and then I realized after each hour that each of these parents are also looking for connection. I am a pastor and I list this. In that hour we talk about their kids, yes, but we also talk about loneliness, isolation, community, yearnings, dreams, needs and concerns for the world. We talk about my life and where I have been and what I believe. We talk about what they believe and over and over again I walk away feeling as though that pastoral call went well and it fulfilled a need for all of us.
This has gotten me to thinking about this need in my world. More and more when I meet new people they sometimes fall into the category of the people I may pastor in the world. In some ways, I am pastoring a congregation here but it isn’t as well defined. More and more people around me think I should market this service…this pastoral care, no that’s not it, this counseling, nope not it either…this deep listening and connectional need, sometimes a spiritual voice need.
Can I offer this as a service? What would you call this? It is so needed and yet I can’t figure out how to offer it to the world….I am still a pastor in this world and yet I can’t figure out how to advertise this without my congregation as the justification to move in the world in this way. I suppose this is what my ordination is in the world and perpetually defines me in ways I deeply connect to. Would you hire me to show up and be a pastor to you?