Sacred Absence

It took a face-to-face reminder of how much some people look to my writing to get this blog written. Last Sunday I was at a commissioning service when one of the members pulled me aside and said, “The first thing I do on Thursday mornings is read your Holy Breadcrumbs blog. I am not sure what happened, but my technology seems to have failed me.” I quickly let her know that it was not her technology that had failed her! I admit that I dropped off the edge of the earth with regard to my writing recently.

Photo by Akshar Dave🌻 on Unsplash

I am titling this blog “Sacred Absence” as it captures the reason behind this drop off. Emotionally and spiritually I have needed a pause. For over four years, I have been writing under the Holy Breadcrumbs title. It has had a certain and specific purpose—to tease out a new vision for the presbytery by tossing ecclesiastical spit wads at the wall and seeing which ones stuck. Okay, the better Biblical image is of tossing hundreds of seeds out onto the soil of our churches, but you get the point.

moving forward
Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

With the adoption of our new mission and vision, we have shifted from discerning which direction to go to living into something new. That is all welcome and wonderful news. It also means that my voice and my writing must change. I need to drop the cloak of playfully teasing us forward to now strategically leading us forward. That is a different kind of writing and a different kind of voice.

My silence exposes my need to enter into a time of discernment. It is one of the reasons that pastors receive two weeks of study leave every year and a three-month sabbatical. We need time to let the Spirit talk to us without the pressures of needing to produce something wise, pithy, contextual, honest and inspirational on a weekly basis. Just as good music comes from the rests between the notes, good spiritual leadership is grounded in the sacred absences from the 24-7 pressures of religious leadership.

camino de sonomaAt the same hour that this blog is published, I will be leaving for California to walk the 75-mile Camino de Sonoma over six days. I have done pilgrimages before and I know the power of disconnecting from the digital world, making room for the Soul to expand, and allowing the Spirit to do Her work. I am confident that I will return with my voice clearer, my writing more focused, and my purpose reinforced.

I write this blog to let you know that I have not gone away forever. I am not done writing. But Holy Breadcrumbs will look different, feel different, and maybe even have a different name when I emerge from this Sacred Absence. Trust me, I am not going away. I am just spiritually regrouping as we enter this new transformational season in the presbytery.

Presence and absence are part of the dance of relationship.

I promise you, I am present even in my absence.

By Rev. Brian Heron, Presbyter for Vision and Mission, Presbytery of the Cascades

7 thoughts on “Sacred Absence

  1. Good for you, Brian – feel the trees, the sand, the wind, the surf…whatever medium the trail of your pilgrimage takes down south. But also, feel the heat. Feel it burn, and feel the sacred need for Earth’s sustinance – sacred water. We are fortunate up here in the PNW that we are one of the micro-regions (at least on the west side of the Cascades) that will see either increased rain, or at least close to “normal” levels of rain, even during our ever-ermerging new realities within our climate crisis. California will continue to trend hotter and drier, I fear. All of the SW will, in fact, and some of that will drift up to our southern Oregon areas, and already has. Despite record rainfall in April and May, Oregon as a state is still in a protracted drought.
    But I write all this in response to you because I lift up for your consideration “sacred water” as a sacred focusing device for your pilgrimage. Yes, focus must shift in your work; and your teasing out the directions in all our Presbytery’s regions of what and where this might lead has been a seed-scattering much needed. Along with sacred water and sacred focus, I lift up one of my Sabbatical readings: Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul by John Philip Newell. The entire concept of Sacred, I think, has been too little emphasized in our collective spiritualities (I am talking about not only our faith but sister faiths with which we have much in common in the need to hold our Earth in hands of careful tending), and, I believe, can prove a Sacred Center from which all of us, regardless of our spiritual pilgrimages, can find common ground. Blessigs as you travel and discern.


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