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  • The Rev. Barbara Ballenger

Rector’s Note: Creating a parish human-energy budget-5.30.24

In a conversation with Rector’s Warden Dave Mosteller yesterday, Dave wondered aloud if a parish should have a human energy budget as well as a financial budget to guide how it spends its resources. What an intriguing idea! Especially as we get ready to roll up our sleeves and plan for the programming year that will start next fall. As we steward time, talent, and treasure this year, how might we also steward our collective energy, as well as support one another so that a few people don’t burn out or exhaust themselves? How might we consider our collective spiritual and psychic energy as a valuable resource to be saved appropriately as well as spent wisely?

Just as individuals have limited amounts of energy and need to build in periods of rest to balance out times of intense spiritual or psychological labor, the same is true for parish communities. This year was particularly full. It seemed like just about everyone had taken our stewardship theme of “All Hands on Deck” to heart throughout the year. We held high-energy events such as Community Rally Day, Trivia Night, the Bluegrass concert, and our Welcome Lunch. We hosted the bishop twice this year – both for my celebration of new ministry as rector and for Pentecost. We poured our spiritual energy into the highs of celebration and growth, and the lows of grief and loss with the deaths of dear members and friends.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired. It’s a good kind of tired -- “ministry tired,” I’ve often called it. But it does raise the question: how might we plan for rest as well as activity as we look ahead to a new program year?

Summer is the obvious time for rest and play in parish life, as we schedule vacations, travel to other places, and suspend our regular programming for a few months. It’s also a time to look back to assess the strengths and challenges of the previous year, and to plan for new programming. My husband likes to joke that calendars and schedules happen on paper, but life happens in real time. He reminds me that I have a tendency to overpack my schedule – especially when I get a little rest and time to dream.

On Saturday, July 15 at 11:30 a.m., we will have a parish planning day where ministry leaders and others can help form the calendar for 2024-2025. In addition to our hopes and dreams for parish programming and where it should land on the calendar, we will consider our moments as a parish for rest and self-care. How will we schedule downtime for our community in a way that allows us space to reflect on what we have done and to listen for the voice of God in what we might do next?

This is both collective work and individual work as well. These questions work for all of us, ordained and lay, those in leadership and those discerning the promptings of God. As we ease into summer, I encourage all of us to take a little personal time to reflect on this past year and ask yourself:

  • How shall I build in time to rest and play throughout the year?

  • What kind of help might I need from my parish community to rest and play and listen for the promptings of God? If you are a ministry leader, it might be the need for more people to help, or it might require help rethinking a ministry or activity so that it demands less time. I am happy to have these conversations.

  • What help might I offer to those who are overstretched? Sometimes it’s a helping hand, sometimes it’s a listening ear. How can we support those who are weary from ministry, or care, or whatever life throws their way? Do I have the space in my life to step up so others can step back?

  • How shall I build in time to attend to the promptings of God? This requires some empty space, some quiet time. It often benefits from a coach, such as a spiritual director or a clergy member. I am happy to share a list of local spiritual directors, and you know that my door is open as well.

A scheduled retreat is also helpful. I personally will be spending several days at Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, New York, in July for some time to regroup and refresh spiritually. I recommend this quiet, beautiful community of Episcopal Benedictine Brothers to any who could use a self-guided or more formally directed retreat.

As we dream and plan for the upcoming program year, let’s be mindful of our collective need for self-care, rest, and play in our “human energy budget.” Let’s help one another listen for the prompting of the divine that says “Be Still. And know that I am God.”

Summer Blessings,

Rev. Barb

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1 comentário

sam hogg
sam hogg
30 de mai.

as usual, well thought and said,barb

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