Thursday, March 25, 2010

Traveling Mercies

I recently had the gift of not having paid employment for two months.  This did not always feel like a gift, particularly at 2 a.m. when I worried about money.  But most days I was thrilled at the prospect of being able to choose how to spend my time.  I had time to pray, time to run, and time to do all of my School of the Spirit readings without feeling rushed.

Then I went back to full-time work and now I am struggling to find balance.  Lately, it feels like I work all week, then work all weekend.  This past weekend, I spent 9-4 on Saturday clerking a planning committee meeting for the Quaker Women's Theology Conference.  In the evening, Sarah P and I planned to go to Bellingham.  We had agreed to visit Bellingham Friends Meeting for worship on Sunday morning and then give a second hour presentation.  But after being in the committee meeting all day, we couldn't do it.

Around 6 p.m., we started wondering whether we should call our host and say we were not going to be able to make it that night.  We decided to go to dinner first and I chose a restaurant less than a mile away from my house.  

The drive to the restaurant was terrifying.  It felt like cars were coming at us from every direction.  Considering we could barely make it to a restaurant that is practically in my neighborhood, we decided that the hour and a half drive to Bellingham was not a good idea.  We called our host, apologized, and said that we would be there in the morning.

The next day, we woke up early and drove to Bellingham.  We had a great conversation on the way there and found the Bellingham Friends Meeting right away.  Everywhere we have traveled, Friends have been wonderful hosts.  Bellingham Friends were so welcoming.  During worship, Sarah P gave a message.  Afterward, we led the second hour discussion.  I think it went really well.  Friends shared openly about their experiences of the Spirit and their interactions with others who use different language.  Then we drove back to Seattle and Sarah P drove to Spokane.

The trip was wonderful, but I woke up Monday morning exhausted.  I was having a really hard time facing the prospect of going to work, though I did eventually go.

There are so many things I love about traveling in the ministry.  I love the feeling of being led and of things falling into place.  I love the way that everyone listens to God and each other when we are there.  I love the feeling of being connected to Friends in so many different places.  But traveling all weekend and then working all week is not sustainable for me.

Over the spring and summer, I expect to travel quite a bit and I am trying to figure out how to make ends meet while I travel.  I have heard many stories of how when early Friends traveled in the ministry, other Friends in their meeting would take care of their families and work while they were gone.  I am fortunate to live with two handsome young men who take care of my cats while I travel, but I can't just have someone from the meeting do my job for me.

I do not expect to be paid for ministry, but sometimes it would be nice if I could do ministry and not have to pay for everything else as well.


  1. The Friends testimony of "Free Gospel Ministry" did not originally mean that ministers were not financially supported so that they could do the work that God was calling them to. Free Gospel Ministry is about recognizing that the call to prophetic ministry is not a career choice, but a vocation from the Lord. Friends, recognizing this vocation, should support the minister spiritually and, if need be, financially.

    While many ministers are able to support themselves financially, not all ministers are blessed with professions that allow them to carry out the work that God has called them to. In these cases, Friends have traditionally supported the minister financially, and in other practical ways, to release them for the Lord's work.

    I hope that we can recapture this tradition in our own time.

    Micah Bales

  2. Yes, I too would encourage you to explore possibilities for you to earn an income for your ministry. Sponsorship, donations, stipends - there must be possiblities out there to explore. Perhaps as well, you could look to train as a spirtual director - I know that there are courses you can do and I have a friend who was Church of England who trained. Then you could charge for work with indivduals.

    I believe that giving and receiving are two interdepdent opposites - and when we are open to receiving, something will show up - particularly, if like you, we have been giving. But we do not know what the Divine has in store for us or how it might show up - we just have to stay open!

  3. Holding you in the Light about your discernment. Also seasoning some thoughts I will post on about work in general and profession and ministry

  4. I am working on a post about all the things I've learned about the re-entry period - not the going and doing ministry part, but the coming home and going back to work part. It is hard, hard, hard. But I am considering the possibility that this is part of the lesson I am supposed to be learning at this point in my life. All I can really say is that I am hearing this a lot, from Friends all over, and I hope we can share with each other whatever helps.


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