I am just back in DC after two weeks away, my first break since arriving in August. I have long been a believer in the value of breaks, the almost predictable new perspective that a bit of time away from the fray provides. But I have always struggled to make the time for those breaks in the midst of the demands that always seem to fill my life.

I’ve always thought of myself as a big picture person, as someone who can hold clarity of vision, work toward real change and sustainable transformation. In fact, I have always understood that to be part of my job and certainly part of my calling as a minister.

Perhaps some of you also believe it is your job to have your life figured out, to have and to hold that kind of big picture. To be able to believe that you are in control.

I approached this recent break with expectations that I would find answers, get to clarity, develop, and commit to plans. I hoped for something more than just a fresh perspective from this break. I was expecting revelation.

The first week away was at the annual retreat for Senior Ministers of Large UU Congregations. I always learn things at that retreat, and I certainly did this year. I also had a number of programmatic responsibilities and several requests for mentoring that I was happy to respond to. The short version was that that retreat felt like work, just different work from All Souls.

Last week I returned to Portland, Oregon. To a house and to grandchildren I had not seen in person for six months. But I arrived in Portland feeling “flu-ish.” This was not Covid, but many of the ministers at the retreat became quite ill.

And then Portland had the 2nd largest snowstorm in recorded history. Our house is in the hills, and we were not able to travel down the hill for days.

In part because I was ill, then recovering, and in part because of the weather…I simply had to slow down…no intense discernment, only the most immediate planning, no grand revelations were received.

But somehow, I return to DC and All Souls better for the time away, though all of those big picture questions remain. The focus on the immediate issues…how to see the grandkids despite the snow…how to clear the gutters that were never designed for a foot of snow…refreshed my spirit in helpful ways.

Reflecting on my time away, during my devotions this morning, I remembered this short piece that I share especially for those of you who, like me, may spend a bit too much time and energy searching for the big picture when what we need may be a bit more focus on the life we are living from moment to moment. I will probably always be drawn to the big picture. I will probably also always need times that bring me back to balance.

Jig-Saw by Julia Drury

You have to work on the pieces of the puzzle that you can see, and trust that the other pieces will come into view in their time. Remember: Compassion is the rule and the guide, the undergirding and the reason for everything. What do you know of those missing pieces around the edge? Maybe God has kicked them off the table, or eaten them. Maybe God has pocketed them, to plunk down in front of you at just the right moment. What do you know?

So work on the center, where you are now. What you can see.

Looking forward to seeing many of you in church on Sunday.


Rev. Bill

This Post Has One Comment

  1. John Tambornino

    Reverend Sinkford, I’m glad you had at least something of a “break.” Your reflections resonate. Though I find that truly focusing on the present moment – the snow, children, even illness – can enable us to see the biggest picture – the grandeur, mystery, joy, and transience… Best, John Tambornino

Leave a Reply