Pearls for the Journey: Give Your Heart
By Rev. Kathryn N. Dwyer*
And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. —Isaiah 58:11
I have a new vision. It is a personal one—one that I have made into art that I can look at each day so that I can stay focused on it. It is dramatically different from other visions I have had for myself in the past. Occasionally in my life I have had an interaction with scripture that is so profound that a verse becomes a vision, something that sticks in my head and my heart and provides guidance for my day-to-day life.
Toward the end of my seminary days when it seemed like everyone around me was questioning why I, as a woman and a single parent, would want to become a pastor (because I might not be able to receive a call that could provide for my family), my vision came from Jeremiah 12:5, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?” I framed that passage, and it sat on my desk for years. Isaiah 58:11 is a sharp contrast. It implies deep roots, strength that comes from good health, and flourishing that happens from a reservoir that is held deep within. It is my vision for this new chapter of my life.
Last month I attended a week-long conference in Live Oak, Florida called CREDO. This conference is a (nearly) fully-paid benefit from the Pension Boards-United Church of Christ (PBUCC) that is designed for mid-career clergy who are in covenant with the wider church. There was much pre-work preparation so that, when present, I could evaluate all aspects of my life: emotional, spiritual, vocational, and financial. There were faculty members from each of these areas who provided plenary sessions as well as personal consultation.
Following my sabbatical, a year when I have chosen to be more focused on my physical health, and the (near) completion of the campus renewal project which has consumed much of my attention for the past five years, this period of self-evaluation was timely. I had begun to get a little itch inside, wondering where my new focus would be for this next chapter of ministry.
Over the course of the week, each of the participants (about 30), developed their own core values and wrote a CREDO statement in whatever way was meaningful to them. I chose to frame my statement as “I give my heart to….”
It began with this verse from Isaiah 58:11, which I reflected on much of the week and, interestingly, is one of the verses that inspired our centennial hymn, “When We Loose the Bonds of Injustice.” This vision is holistic, for every area of my life, but what became abundantly clear to me that week is that I give my heart, again, to you Rock Spring. While I don’t know exactly what this next chapter holds for us, I know that I am, again and still, giving myself whole-heartedly to our ministry together. May we nurture deep roots and flourish together.
About PBUCC CREDO
PBUCC CREDO is a holistic wellness benefit that offers clergy space and resources to examine significant areas of their lives and discern prayerfully the future direction of their vocation as they respond to God’s call in a lifelong process of practice and transformation.
The CREDO experience is anchored in a week-long Seminar and includes a pre-Seminar assessment and post-Seminar resources so that participants can deepen their commitment to lifelong wellness. Learn more about this program here http://bit.ly/PB_CREDO.
*The Rev. Kathryn N. Dwyer is Senior Pastor of Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ in Arlington, VA.
This article is used with permission of Rock Spring Congregational UCC. The original article appeared in the church’s newsletter, Rock Spring News, June 2018 Vol 12., No. 6 edition..