Rev. Laura Stern is the pastor at Ocracoke United Methodist Church and one of our Group 2 Spirited Life participants. In the passage below, she shares her experience in the program as well as some of the resources she’s found most meaningful as she works to maintain a balanced life:
“I have enjoyed being part of the Spirited Life program. The program sets aside intentional time and space to take seriously the balance (or lack thereof) in my life and ministry. As a solo pastor and mother of three small children living on a remote island, life is a constant juggling act. Since beginning the program in 2012, I have been exploring ways to bring together the various moving parts in my life.
I have discovered a renewed interest in reading and writing. Setting aside a devotional time early in the morning before the household wakes allows time to pray, think, read, and write.
Some favorite books as-of-late include: The Pastor: A Memoir, by Eugene Peterson; Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott; Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks, and A Writer’s Life, by Kathleen Norris; and, the classic for any island pastor, Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Each of these books remind me of the profound depth, possibility, and hope within pastoral ministry.
Between bulletin revisions and waiting for the church copier to warm up, a few clicks online can keep the brain going. Blogs that offer good food-for-thought for me include Jan Richardson’s The Painted Prayerbook and posts on rachelheldevans.com.
Writing and reading are two sides of the same coin. While enjoying reading, I keep pushing myself to write. It is a form of spiritual discipline that helps me make connections, add dimension, and stay relevant to my calling.
Last month, I pursued an entire week of writing and learning through an opportunity hosted by the Collegeville Institute entitled “Theology in the Real World: A Week with Kathleen Norris.” It was an invaluable opportunity to spend a week away from church and family responsibilities, to work alongside pastors and writers from across denominations, and to learn from a bestselling author of creative non-fiction.
I think the core of Spirited Life is about discovery, or perhaps re-discovery, of ourselves, our calling, and joy within our lives. Over the past few months, this discovery has taken the form of reading and writing. I look forward to what other discoveries will come about as I continue through the Spirited Life program.”
– Compiled by Catherine Wilson
Photo courtesy of Laura Stern, featuring her children Gretchen (7), Nicholas (4), and Charlie (2).