November 5, 2013

Faithful Transitions - Disponibilité

Nota - Este artículo es disponible en español aquí.

Gabriel Marcel, a French, Christian philosopher, speaks eloquently about the notion of Disponibilité. The most direct translation of this word in English is "availability" but in French and Spanish, there is more depth and nuance than the English translation. Availability is more passive than active. Disponibilité is anything but. Disponibilité is not just about the fact that we make ourselves available, but that we bring resources—all kinds of resources—with us to a particular situation, encounter, or relationship. It implies an attitude of openness, an attitude that allows the Holy Spirit to work through and with us to meet the aching needs of the world. If we actively and intentionally practice hope, generosity, courage, kindess—all the charisms of faith—the resources we offer are deepened so literally, there is more of us to offer and make available for God’s work in the world. Of course the model and supreme example of Disponibilité is Jesus, Christ.

As the end of a ministry looms, we are often disappointed, saddened, or in some other sense, left feeling emptied. It is tempting for a leader—lay or clergy—to begin to check out ahead of the last day 'on the job'. The impulse is understandable, but is it faithful? The answer is found in the word 'faithful'—our faith, when we allow it to, fills us, allows us to carry a full measure of grace. The 'end times' that come in all ministry are an opportunity to lay claim to the full measure of grace God always waits to offer us so that, in turn, we can continue to practice Disponibilité. 

I am beginning a process of transition. It is clear that my time in my current ministry is almost over though I don’t know yet what the next part of my call will look like. These have been hard, wonderful years starting a new congregation and then moving into a time of greater stability and routine, trying to hold on to the energy of newness and the order that comes with a more established ministry. In the past 30 days I had the opportunity to make a silent retreat in the tradition of the Ignatian Exercises. My days were filled with hikes around beautiful Lake Tahoe and profoundly moving encounters with the Gospel narratives of Christ's life, death and resurrection. Over the next few months, I am planning a series of posts to share some of the insights and grace I found on this retreat, insights and grace I hope will allow me to bring myself and even deeper resources to the leave-taking that lies ahead.

In the meantime, whether you are starting, in the middle, or at the end of a ministry you were called to, how available are you to the gifts of grace the One who created, redeems and strengthens you would like you to receive? And how do you practice Disponibilité?