jesus on a boatFamed writer, Annie Dillard wrote in her bestselling novel Pilgrim at Tinker Creek: “Time is the one thing we have been given and we have been given to time.”

Well my time as moderator has almost given out. This will be my last Crosslight reflection as moderator and I take the opportunity to thank all those who have given me much needed encouragement in my writing pursuits.

Dillard wrote the line about time in the context of a journal entry by Thomas Merton where he suggested an “emendation in the Lord’s Prayer: Take out ‘Thy Kingdom come’ and substitute ‘Give us time!’”

You will have gathered that I’m a bit of a fan of Merton, but I actually think he missed the mark with that journal entry. The plea to be given time is surely contained in the prayer “Give us this day …”

Each day I have served as moderator has most assuredly been given. If it were not so, I could not have made it so close to the finish.

I read a story once about an abbot in the south of Thailand who was building a new hall in his forest monastery. When it came time to have their annual Retreat, he stopped all work and sent the builders home because it was their time for quiet in the monastery.

A few days later a visitor came, saw the half-constructed building and asked the abbot when his hall would be finished. Without hesitation, the old monk said, “The hall is finished”.

The visitor replied “What do you mean, ‘The hall is finished’? There’s no roof, no doors or windows. There are building materials all over the place. Surely you’re not going to leave it like that? How can you say the hall is finished?”

The old abbot smiled and gently replied, “What’s done is finished”, and then went away to sit in the quiet.

In a similar sense, the building materials of the Synod’s Major Strategic Review are strewn all over the place and I find myself asking, “How can I say that my time is nearly finished?”. But come the end of May, as far as I am concerned, what’s done will be finished.

Movement and Rest…

I remember Norman Young addressing the retirees and ordinands at the 2010 Synod. I can’t remember the specific text he used – maybe Acts or Timothy. But he spoke of running the race and passing the baton on.

Well in a sense I’m glad to be passing the baton on to Sharon. She is a person of terrific energy and enthusiasm. I feel sure that Sharon will be a great moderator. Her time will be different to mine and she will bring a breadth of experience and wisdom to the synod.

Early on in my term as moderator, I wrote a prayer based on the story of Jesus asleep in the stern of the boat during a storm at sea. Because I feel that I have been blessed in my growth over the last three years, I’d like to leave you with another prayer, based on my own adaptation of Psalm 65.

Psalm 65 (sort of)

Praise to you God
You who answer prayer
To you we come
When volumes of work overwhelm us
You give us rest & relief

You silence the roaring of the seas
You silence the roaring of their waves
You silence the tumult of the peoples

You make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy

You water the earth and enrich it
Your river is full

Each day we plough
And you water the furrows abundantly
Softening us with showers
Blessing our growth 

You crown us with your bounty
Your wagon tracks overflow with richness 

And we give thanks to you O God
We give thanks; your name is near 


Dan Wootton

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