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A Letter to the People of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut

posted Sep 8, 2016, 7:52 PM by Trinity Vestry   [ updated Sep 8, 2016, 7:54 PM ]


September 6, 2016
 


A Letter to the People of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut
Reflections: Finding Balance


Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
 
Many of us this summer found ourselves at times watching the summer Olympics from Rio de Janeiro. We were captivated by the talents of individuals and teams and reminded of the hard work and dedication of athletes all over the world as well as their supporting colleagues who helped make their athletic abilities the best in their field.
 
We also learned that it takes more than hard work to make a gold-medal winner. Gwen Jorgensen, who won the gold for the U.S.A. in the triathlon, spoke about the importance of balance in her life: balancing her workouts of running, swimming, and cycling with her diet, down time and sleep.
 
Balance. It is an important word for Christians. St. Benedict of Nursia (c. 430) often thought be the founder of western monasticism, wrote -- in his rule to the monks in his care -- about the need for balance in their daily life. He stressed a balance of prayer, study and time for manual work. Benedict's rule is not just for monks of his abbey, however, but for "any person who wished to live as fully as possible the type of life presented in the Gospel." (New Advent website http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02467b.htm). For me, as I read Benedict's rule, I hear a call to seek to balance prayer, work (including study), rest, and play (including physical exercise).
 
For most of us, unless we're running camps and special programs, it might be easier to think of balance during the summer. Life has a slightly slower pace then, or at least there might be a few less demands on our precious time.
 
Summer seems to lend itself to prayer, work, rest and play.
 
We find our time in nature leads us into prayers of thanksgiving and praise for God's creation. Our summer chapels open their doors to seasonal residents, travelers and locals; we experience collaborative ministries with neighboring parishes as clergy take time away for rest and vacation; and we enjoy outdoor services or coffee hours as a form of refreshment and connection.
 
Our work takes on a different feel as we fill in for colleagues on holiday or find time to read, prepare, and vision for the coming year. We may have the opportunity to finish projects that were interrupted during the rest of the year or to tackle a new job.
 
Rest becomes a chance maybe for a lazy nap in a hammock or sleeping just a little bit longer in the morning. I've enjoyed going to bed early this summer...Having fewer late night meetings has given me the opportunity to enjoy an early dinner and longer sleep.
 
Play becomes a chance to walk in the early evening while the sun is still up late or to swim at one of Connecticut's great beaches or local pools. Perhaps you found time to play golf, tennis or sail.
 
My favorite play adventure is connecting with friends passing through Connecticut and spending time with friends.
 
For the past few years, I have traveled to Canada for a week every summer to spend time with my friend Bishop Linda Nichols. She is the newly elected Bishop Coadjutor in the Diocese of Huron and previously served as the Bishop Suffragan in Toronto.
 
Bringing my passion for "participating in God's mission" to Canada, we spent several days exploring her new diocese and diving deeply into some of the local contexts she oversees.
 
A food tour on Lake Huron had us tasting a variety of foods filled with local garlic and enjoying an exceptional array of goat cheeses. A trip to Stratford Upon Avon (in Canada) included seeing an outstanding production of Macbeth and enjoying an excellent fresh salmon dinner. Perch and trout were also part of our dining that week!
 
Coming home, I found my passion for exploring the local context in Connecticut continues to excite and intrigue me. Our local work, engaging and seeking to make connections with our neighbors and learning from them, is such a vital part of our listening in God's Mission. What is God up to in our local contexts? Not just our food and our entertainment, but what significant needs are in our context and who is God already working with that we might join? Listening, learning and joining God in the neighborhood! How delightful that my time of play fueled my passion for our great work in Connecticut! A gift of summer!
 
Balance. Pray, work, rest and play. It seems to be achievable for many of us in the summer. I'm curious how we can hold onto it in the coming months.
 
What ways can we open ourselves up to prayer in a new way as well as find ourselves delighting in Sunday worship and the routine of church school, choirs, and the gathering of old and new friends? Perhaps God is calling you to try on "Pray First"- an invitation from the Pray First network in ECCT (prayfirstct.org) to remember to Pray First...always...before meals, meetings, and times of rest and play. A prayer of thanksgiving or setting an intention for the upcoming time might be a way to Pray First. A centering prayer of slow breathing, offering perhaps a word...God, Love, Hope, might help us connect more fully to God in the activity ahead.
 
What ways can we include work in the balance of our lives, not letting it be all-consuming of our days, but giving it the honor and time that good and holy work requests of us? Perhaps it's exploring our passions in our work, or wondering: what is our desire for our work? and for ourselves? at our work.How can we ask God to support us in this quest?
 
Rest. Oh, rest. The late night meetings will return and demands on all of our time will increase. Can we honor our rest? I think of Jesus sleeping in the boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus knew he needed his rest to claim the fullness of life he was called to. Can we hold onto the image of the sleeping Jesus and honor that rest in our own lives?
 
And play. As the weather turns colder and the sun sets earlier in the day, our outside actives change, but our need for play does not. I invite you to share with your friends and colleagues both your practices of play and to ask them to honor your need for play. If we seek to hold one another accountable for our prayer, work, rest, and play we offer collegial support for all of us to find the balance that our Christian walk invites.
 
Benedict knew that a balanced life keeps us focused on God and walking the Christian way. I invite all of us as we move into our fall season to reflect on this balance. Using Benedict or another rule, find ways to keep your focus and your health. We are our best when we live a balanced life. Benedict knew it. The athletes at Rio de Janeiro knew it. And we know it too. Let us seek to care for one another in the months ahead, inviting conversation and support to one another as we live into our busy autumn lives.
 
May our walk with God and one another honor the balance that grounds us in our Christian faith.  


Faithfully,

The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan
Ecclesiastical Authority 

EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN CONNECTICUT
PARTICIPATING IN GOD'S MISSION



290 Pratt Street ı Box 52 ı Meriden, CT 06450 ı 203-639-3501  
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