Some old friends from Manchester came to stay with us recently, and the end of a week’s retreat with the Northumbria Community. They are exploring the “what next” question that all of us face from time to time, as we sense a change of direction to our life’s journey.
If we take the idea of Life as Pilgrimage seriously, this is a place we will all arrive at from time to time, as just a natural progression to the next stopping point en-route for our final destination.
This year seems to have encompassed change and new beginnings for several members of our family too.
My wife has had a life-changing operation and has started a course of therapy which could be significant. As she winds down her Community Arts business she has also started the first steps towards a new career in nursing.
Several of the children have also started new career paths or are getting ready to move on to the next step in their education. One of them seems settled and happy in the work and place he is in, for the moment at least.
The remaining one has completed her degree course and is now asking that “what next” question.
I find myself most identifying with her. Having arrived at a point where I thought that my passion and calling towards pastoral work in church was going to be re-ignited, and then seeing it all fade away at the last moment I’ve spent the last year trying to pick up the pieces. My other self-employed work seems to be taking a downturn at present, so just from a practical point of view I find myself being nudged towards something new (I think). So the “what next” question is in my sights too.
I’ve been reading a book recently which has cast some light on my current predicament too. In his book “Holy Discontent”, Bill Hybels writes about our passion, the thing that more than anything else gives us a sense of purpose and fulfilment. I would have said that producing a strong, healthy, caring, growing church would have been my passion, however, Hybels also makes the point that sometimes our passion ‘morphs’ into something new, and we have to recognise and embrace the change. That’s if we have the faintest idea what the change is!.
One thing is certain – the change probably won’t be geographical…Wendy’s new career demands that we stay in The Borders for the foreseeable future, and our new landlords have invested in our home in order to give us a secure, stable and well maintenance home to live in. So where is life as pilgrimage going to take me next, I wonder, and what new beginnings can I anticipate.