“I wish I could have felt more spiritually nurtured upon return from traveling, when I almost felt like some Friends had forgotten about me. My community was happy to see me, but I would have like to have had more check-ins about how I was recuperating [and] processing.” Treye M, University Friends Meeting (North Pacific Yearly Meeting)Traveling in the ministry is exhausting. While ordinary travel can be tiring, travel in the ministry has the added components of trying to be present to God and to others for extended periods of time and sometimes having to give vocal ministry or presentations. It is essential for meetings and support committees to provide support for ministers as they return, because the minister will probably feel tender. As one example, I have found it especially helpful when Friends have given me a ride home from the airport so that I do not have to take the bus home.
Once the minister has recovered from traveling, it is important for meetings and churches to create space for ministers to bring back what they have learned and experienced. Jon W, from Richmond Friends Meeting, commented that the important question to ask after ministry is “was I faithful?” It is helpful for the minister to meet with a support committee to process how the travel went, especially if things seemed to not go well or as expected. There must also be time for the minister to communicate with the community as a whole.
In my interviews, many Friends expressed deep sadness in not being able to share their experiences with their home faith communities. It can be difficult for the minister to initiate this communication alone. Sarah P, from Spokane Friends Church, noted that “the fact that folks didn’t invite me to share was decisive in whether things got shared or not,” but she felt that her meeting was missing out on its half of the experience of traveling. Sarah H, from University Friends Meeting, said that she felt that her ministry in Palestine was to witness and carry stories back and it has been excruciating to not have space to share the stories. Some mentioned that it felt supportive for individuals to follow up and ask about the ministry.
[From the research paper I wrote for the School of the Spirit on the spiritual nurture of young Friends traveling in the ministry.]