Traveling in Gospel Ministry – new openings, old threads

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

– William Stafford


Today is an anniversary of sorts.  8 years ago, in 2011, I stumbled upon a tiny meeting of Conservative Friends in Winona, Ohio.  I say stumbled – I was clearly led, but had little idea of the whole plan as it unfolded.  I carried a letter of introduction that could not be called a “travel minute” since had not yet been endorsed by our Yearly Meeting (due to a scheduling issue).  I had intended to go to a completely different meeting, in a different town, on the way back from an FGC gathering which was the actual “point” of my trip.  I sat in worship with three weighty Friends, I went to the home of Myrtle Bailey for an Opportunity and lunch, and basically got a whole new introduction to ministry and travel, experientially.

This morning I am in Wilmington North Carolina.  I am intending (God willing) to check into the North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative) gathering for the week.  I have a new travel minute, a different meeting, my daughter is with me, and she has her own letter of introduction.  This trip also hit some snags, and yet here I am in perfect God’s timing.

The past eight years have been very full.  I have a very new iPhone, some new digital ministry skills for sharing, and a whole lot of knowledge I did not have before.  I still feel completely overwhelmed and unprepared for all of this.  I have an oversight of ministry committee and number of Friends who help – I’d barely met most of them in 2011.

I’m still carrying the same small bible from 2011.  I have a new-to-me “Book of Meetings” from 1858 in my pocket.  It was a gift from Friend Carl, and is a book that Traveling Ministers used to carry with them to note news of where they had been, and be aware of upcoming meetings of Friends all over the world.  Most importantly, I have the memories of all I have learned, and those I have met, and the messages written on my heart. Those don’t go away and are very light to carry.  I also have a lot of Quaker T-shirts – still no bonnet.

And thus, my intentional year of travel in Gospel Ministry among Friends, begins.  Or continues.  All about where you hold that thread….

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