The theme for our 2019 Diocesan Convention is “Called to be…travelers on the road” and I’ve been thinking a lot about my travels along the road this year so far. As you may remember, I spent most of 2018 assisting the Cathedral during their time of transition in preparation for calling a new Dean, so I didn’t spend as much time on the road. However, I greeted 2019 by hitting the road as soon as I was able, and my first visitation of the new year was at St John the Baptist in Lodi. Here we are in October, and I’ve been blessed to have been in *almost* every community this year.
Being on the road isn’t just about doing visitations though. My travels are both within the diocese, and outside of the diocese. I feel honored to be able to walk with congregations as they are in the transition process of calling new clergy. To journey with them as they discern who God is calling them to be in this time and place, and how a new clergy person can help them grow into that calling, is one of my favorite pieces of this crazy vocation as Canon to the Ordinary. Because I want to be the best resource and support person to them, I take my gatherings with other Province VIII Canons/Transition Officers seriously so that I can learn about current trends and practices in the world of Transitions. Back in March, Transition Officers (many of whom are also Canons) from around the Episcopal Church gathered in Salt Lake City for the first time in ten years to share resources on implicit bias training, updates to the Office of Transition Ministries database, coaching congregations through transition, and do’s & don’ts of profile writing.
Life on the road isn’t just about transitions though. My travels also provide me the opportunity to meet with others from around the Church. My most recent trip to Chicago was to meet with about sixty women from within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to talk about discernment and the challenges we face (misogyny, sexism, work/life balance) and the hopes we have for the church as a reflection of the Kingdom of God and the full body of Christ.
But more than being destination focused, being a traveler on the road is a spiritual practice. It is an opportunity for me to pray. As I drive the 99 or catch a flight from FAT, I pray for our communities, I pray for the people I will be spending time with, and I pray to remain faithful to God’s calling. Sometime this prayer comes through conversation; windshield time is often where God’s big dreams are hatched, where relationships are strengthened, and where confessions are heard. Through the technology of Bluetooth, I am able to connect with my spiritual companions, check in on my parents, and chat with clergy who are discerning the call to come to San Joaquin. The big sky and open road of the Central Valley also provides me the much needed quiet to listen for that “still small voice of God” who sometimes needs to remind me that I am their beloved child
So my friends, I invite you to be a traveler on the road. Someone smarter than me said “It’s the journey, not the destination that matters”. They’re absolutely right. Being a traveler on the road is about observing, listening to, engaging with, and seeing God’s people, God’s dream, and God’s amazing creation. May your journeys be blessed. Cn. Anna