Do Clergy Need Time to Be Quiet?

Do Clergy Need Time to Be Quiet?

by the Rev. Christine Leigh-Taylor, Retired, The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California

No one asked us explicitly. But the large attendance at a February 25th Clergy Lenten Quiet Day at Mercy Center Auburn, with Bishop Barry Beisner and Bishop Brian Thom, of the Episcopal Diocese of Idaho, attested that a time of collective solitude resonated well with diocesan clergy in the Sacramento Valley area. The theme was “Lenten Reflections on Vocation.”

When this day-long retreat was first announced I signed up immediately. Even though I am not currently serving as a rector, I am busier than ever. And I don’t think I am unusual. One person admitted to having so far “flunked retirement.” It may be Lent, but most of us are still juggling parochial and community ministries, even as we endeavor to take on some Lenten discipline to become more responsive to our various callings.

In our afternoon session, Bishop Thom read a passage from 2 Corinthians 4:1-8, which begins, “Since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.” We were invited to focus on the word “mercy,” and to think in some depth about what it conveys. It turns out to be a concept packed with meaning but hard to define. A dictionary entry offered by Bishop Thom was “showing compassion and forgiveness to someone over whom we have power or command.” I think many of us would not consider ourselves to possess significant power or command over others, but sometimes our parishioners like to attribute imagined spiritual authority to clergy. Among several suggestions put forward to explain “mercy” were these: “something we did not deserve” and “an unwarranted gift.”

After meditating on what unwarranted gifts God might be wanting to bestow on each of us, we joined together for a final time of sharing, both of insights and of a simple Eucharist. For me, it was a very holy day, and I am grateful for the opportunity to put aside my usual self-imposed rushing and spend some time apart.


1 comment (Add your own)

1. Harry Shippy wrote:
I caught this while exploring the diocesan website. I'm glad to see that you are still very active. I think everybody needs quiet, a time or place (or both). We don't do enough. Keep up the good work!

Wed, March 18, 2015 @ 6:08 AM

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