So I struggled a bit--or more than a bit-- about entering Lent this year. Often it is a season I delight in, but this year, I just feel exhausted and dead inside. During one of multiple long nights, the thought came to me to give up pastoring for lent. (Weird, i know.) I just feel like I have no resources left to pastor and when I got even more honest I was able to admit that I haven't actually been pastoring for a long time. In the interest of honesty, it seemed like a good idea to just finally say out loud that I'm not able to do this and stop trying to make whimpy little efforts. I hesitated only because it would dump everything in this busy season on my beloved co-pastor and husband. When I talked about this with Barbara and Paul, we had a huge laugh over the t-shirt: "I've given up pastoring for Lent. Don't tempt me." (We generally enjoy making signs like this or even shirts like this. It's most fun of course when you're giving up something like complaining or cussing.) Another night of wrestling and some snippet somewhere about Elijah running away, and I realized the call might be to give up silence for Lent, which also sounds weird because it is a season when many people intentionally seek more silence. But the silence I would be giving up would be my own. In other words, I would have to find my voice again, and use it.
The two seemed to pull in different directions until I wrote that down on paper. Then I heard something that I had been told in the past, and it clarified the unity of the two. Some time ago, exasperated and rejected, I told someone, "Okay, fine. I will stop pursuing a friendship with you." She said, "Is that what you've been doing???? 'Cause I definitely want you to stop what you've been doing." And maybe that's how it is with pastoring: maybe God and my flock would say, "I definitely want you to stop what you're doing, but I wouldn't call that pastoring."
Ah. So it may be difficult to even maintain the illusion of pastoring from the place of silence, particularly if you're supposedly a prophet.