Revisioning the Task

My village has become a bustling park today.  Colorful kayaks and canoes are being carried into the Yellow Breeches for a day’s floating adventure.  Children hunt crayfish under rocks.  Parents roast hot dogs.  Black labs are swimming.  A father explains to his son how the suspension construction of the pedestrian bridge works.  Older folks sit together on benches under the shade trees.  It’s the 4th of July!

I see all this while I am walking the dogs along the creek path before it gets too hot.  It will be a good holiday day to sit on the front porch swing, watch the parade of picnickers to and from the creek, and read books.  As I walk, I think about the two books I am finishing up:  “Becoming Curious” by Casey Tygrett and “Falling Upward” by Richard Rohr.  With  transitioning into some form of retirement a few weeks away, the authors’ reflections have challenged me to think how the tasks in my next stage of life might be different.  The books aren’t about retirement at all, but they are about maturing in our spirituality and in those practices and tasks that are central to a generative life.

So in between stops to clean up after one of the dogs or to greet a stranger passing on the path, I have spent this morning’s walk “revisioning,” a frequent word used in my work as a pastor of a renewing congregation.  But today I use that word for me.  How do I revision the task of being a follower of Christ given my upcoming  transition, of no longer serving the congregation where I have been for almost 16 years?  How are my priorities shifting? What do I value most as I am called to do different things and to do old things differently.  How am I called to follow Jesus Christ in my daily life in the future ahead?

The answer is not to come up with a new resolution to put into short-lived practice, then quickly forget.  Instead I am attempting to name an intention that has already become a growing reality.  It is not so much stating what I will do as it is naming ways I am already being drawn to be—as a grandparent, a mentor, an interim pastor, a  spiritual listener, a wife more at home now, even as a hiker.

Here’s my stab at it for now:  in this new transition, I am drawn to the practice of living with more humility, of asking more curious questions, of listening more deeply, and—well, this next one might be wishful thinking—of speaking with fewer words.  It has taken me a long time to embrace that I, a flawed human being, can never know the whole picture (much humility obviously needed).  That I miss so much if I don’t practice asking good questions (I grew up in the south where it was impolite to be too nosy).  That what people need most is one who is attentively listening to them (and not thinking about what comes next or checking cell phones).  That what I may be able to say of most value will be simple words of affirmation, hope and  blessing.  Yes, this seems to me to be a good way to grow into becoming one of the older ones—maybe not sitting on the bench yet, but certainly sitting down over a cup of coffee with time to spare.


  1. Good morning. When I check my mail and see a new post from Walking the Water Way, I know to find a quiet place, a cup of coffee, and sit to read. It’s always a spiritual adventure Your posts never disappoint. The questions you ask of yourself in this time of personal transition are not unlike the questions we ask at our church today. How do we as church council, as congregation , see our priorities today? How do we understand the needs of our community and are we willing to change to meet these needs. How do we personally and as the church follow the call to change, to be self-giving, to risk failure in our efforts to follow the teachings of Jesus. Much to think about. Thank you for this post. Peace

    • Elaine Dent says:

      Yes, Sharron, being a part of a renewing congregation, preaching on change and generosity, encouraging letting go of the old and risking the new has definitely prepared me to ask good, hard questions of myself. Of course, one can’t mentor oneself very well, so feel free to help ask me “revisioning” questions anytime. Thanks for your encouragement.

  2. Jean Rush says:

    Enjoyed and related to this post Elaine. Thanks for putting into words what I have been living the last 2 months.
    I have taken a break from full time employment to enjoy the company of my Granddaughter who is now 7!
    We have spent 3 glorious days enjoying each others company at Hershey Park. A magical place it is for us securing our bond even more deeply.
    Bless you Elaine as you enter this rich section of the journey!