It’s been a while since I posted on my blog. Life has been pretty busy around the Jackson household, especially since I was gone a week. Many of you know that I was away at a conference from April 27 to May 4. This is part of my two weeks of continuing education that I get annually (I still haven’t decided what I want to do with the other week of con.ed.). While I know that it’s important to do this kind of work (Moses and Jesus spent a lot of time doing “continuing education”), it was hard to be away. Isabel was dying. Relay for Life was relaying for life. Ellisa was receiving the Beverley McEachern scholarship. Not a good time to go, and in fact, I wrestled with whether I should go or not. Thanks to wise friends, including many of you, I went.
The conference I went to was called CREDO or “Clergy Reflection Education Discernment Opportunity” (or something like that). It’s a program put on by the Episcopal Church Pension Fund, and is in fact, part of my benefits as a member of the Pension Fund. Participants are selected randomly through the Pension Fund database and are invited to attend. I was invited about 3 years ago, but the week of the conference was the week Bronwyn was due to be born. Ironically, my 3 best friends from seminary were also invited 3 years ago, but one was getting married, so everyone dropped out to go to the wedding (I couldn’t go because, once again, Bronwyn was due). Fortunately, all four of us where invited to this one too about a year ago (well before I heard the call to come to St. Nicholas). CREDO takes place at conference centers all over the country, and this one was at the Roslyn Conference Center in Richmond, VA.
So at the outset, I was excited just to be able to hang out with my friends. We had a weekly prayer group in seminary and also played Spades every week, so we knew it was going to be a good time to play some cards, drink a few beers, throw the frisbee a time or two, and simply reconnect. And we definitely got to do all those things. However, CREDO was much more than that.
CREDO teaches about clergy wellness, how to be sustained to increase our abilities to serve Christ in our communities. They do this by focusing on four areas: Vocation, Spirituality, Health, Finances. There are highly trained faculty for each CREDO in each area. There are plenary sessions as well as individual consultations. There was small group time to reflect on each area. There was lots of personal time to reflect on each area. There was incredible worship. On the Sunday of the week, we got to sleep in and were provided with Starbucks coffee and the New York Times. They told us (but I don’t think it’s true *wink, wink*) that we had the opportunity to do what many people in our congregation get to do on Sunday mornings–leisurely drink coffee and read the paper.
Finally, our week culminated in devising what’s called a CREDO plan, goals in each of the four areas that we try to implement into our lives. I was focused more on the Spiritual, Financial, and Health areas than the Vocation, because of my recent move here. But my plan includes integrating my spirituality into all areas of my life, truly seeking God in the midst of all things. Instead of setting aside time each day for God, I feel called to see God in all parts of my day. When I converse with people, I am called to converse with God. One of my other goals in this area is to meet weekly with my prayer group friends on-line in a teleconference for continued support, conversation, and connection.
On the Financial side, our first priority (which hasn’t changed) is selling the house in Savannah. We can’t do much about planning financially for our future until we do that.
On the Health side, I need to be creative about how to include exercise into my life. Certainly, my weekly Monday morning hikes at FDR are included. But also riding my bike to work. These are also times to spend with God or my family, so they have multiple benefits.
One highlight of my week was when they gave us a full morning to be quiet and be with God. I went for a long walk, and because I love music, I plugged in my iPod and turned on a new Celtic album I recently bought. At one point, I was walking up this beautiful hill and the music was reaching it’s crescendo. The sound of fiddles, whistles, and drums were blaring and once I reached the top of the hill, I got this wonderful sense of God’s presence. It was spectacular.
I am so appreciative to the Church Pension Fund for taking care of us. I’m appreciative to you all for being so understanding and supportive in being gone. I’m appreciative to my family who let me be gone (and whom I missed very much). I do feel more focused, more energized, and ready to move forward!