This is a partial list of the various phases through which I have gone so far in my life. I remember my parents asking, when I was getting into something new, if I was really serious or whether it was just a phase? Somehow in their minds this tied into whether or not it was worth putting money and time into supporting my efforts. I have, in fact, caught myself thinking the same thing when the kids decided they desperately needed calligraphy pens, collections etc. I realize that there are some developmental stages that kids go through which parents only survive by telling themselves, “It’s just a phase, it will pass!” but the thing about the things on my list is I was absolutely serious about all of them. At the time that I was into riding it was all I thought about. I worked hard to learn all I possibly could about horses and riding and there were hours of sweat and labour involved. I loved every minute of it, but then it passed.
I am here to talk about the value of the phase. Much maligned, it is in those periods of intense focus on one activity or another that we gain knowledge, proficiency, sometimes expertise in that area. Long after the phase has disappeared from our daytimers, that skill and knowledge remain with us and help to inform our further pursuits. It is remarkable the connections that come up when you are doing something seemingly unrelated. Things you did when working with horses turns out to work well with other animals, and or people.
When I have pondered my calling over the years I often gave thought to all those skill sets I have and wondered what path they were pointing to. There were times when I considered mission as an obvious answer. In the end, I think that more than anything they have equipped me to make connections with a great variety of people. I am just as comfortable in a conversation with farmers and college professors, teens and ‘little old ladies.’ It is in this way that I believe I have been prepared to give pastoral care. I may not be useful in the church kitchen, but I can talk with and coordinate with those who are.
So…here is to the phase, may we enjoy many more of them!