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As summer begins and we seek rest…

Bishop Shane praying in front of Christ Church Cathedral
By on June 1, 2021

It is very hard to believe that one year ago, on May 31, 2020, the day of Pentecost, I was consecrated to be your bishop. After the service I went out to the forecourt of the Cathedral to “pray for the city” as is traditional for a new bishop. As I prayed silently by the “Homeless Jesus” sculpture, bathed in the dramatic light of the sunset, I was conscious of the deep, reassuring presence of the Holy Spirit. I upheld the clergy and people of our diocese, letting my mind travel through the deaneries and parishes, and the names and faces that appeared as I prayed. And I knew all will be well, in time.

Since then, I pray daily for you, but the pandemic has allowed very few opportunities to pray with you in person. I have “been in church” on barely a dozen Sundays since becoming your bishop a year ago! However, like most of you, I have been online on Sundays, joining in worship with congregations across our diocese, and appreciating all the hard work that goes into producing “virtual worship” week in and week out. 

Shortly before I was consecrated, I wrote a pastoral note to our clergy, and offered the following thoughts, which I share now in a slightly modified form because they apply to all of us—especially as the summer begins and as we seek rest and refreshment after another long pandemic winter and spring. 

Please be careful with your time and energy. We have all been adjusting and innovating in order to live out our baptismal vows, without the benefit of the familiar rhythms that anchor us. Some of our duties have disproportionally expanded, and the lines between working and not working have likely blurred for all of us. 

Pace yourself and keep it simple. Measure what you feel you need to be doing now against what you would normally be doing, and if it seems like you are stressed and spread thin, then aggressively assess what you need to scale back. Stay within your natural gifts and strengths: the most important thing is for people to know that you care about them and are there for them.

If you feel like you are spending too much time in “Hollywood” mode, arrange for your parish to plug into a Sunday liturgy being streamed or offered by another parish. It is okay to take a Sunday off. If you are spending more time checking in, phoning, texting, or “meeting” than you ever have before, step back a bit, trusting that everyone is ministering to one another. 

And if you don’t know when you are not working, ritualize your time off: turn off the phone, change your clothes, go for a walk, do something that is only about you (and if you have a partner or family, only about them). Knowing when you are off work, and being able to say to a friend what that looks like is really important—and if you don’t have a cogent “here’s what I am doing on my time off these days” narrative, then take that seriously. 

Take good care of yourselves and one another. If you don’t stay healthy in mind and body in the midst of a crisis, you will be unable to help others: there is nothing selfish about self-care.

I pray that these summer months will bring many times of rest and relaxation to all, and that the Holy Spirit will visit you frequently, filling your hearts and minds with grace and peace. All will be well, in time.

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