Reflections from a guest—Rita’s story
Having been in ministry for over 16 years, I have learned—sometimes the hard way!—the necessity of taking time to rest in God’s presence. When I first heard the call to priesthood, it was in the context of prayer, and I have always understood my ministry as rooted in prayer. However, in the busyness of managing congregational life, pastoral emergencies, and family responsibilities, it has, at times, seemed easier to do the things that need doing, the things that other people will see, and to push prayer down the list of priorities.
About 12 years ago, I decided that I could not live that way, and decided that one of the things that I needed to do in order to be faithful to my ordination vows was to set aside one day per month as a day of prayer. On this day, I would not go in the office, nor would I stay at home. If I lived in a community with a retreat centre, I would go there. In one tiny town, I made arrangements with a local pastor to get the key to his church so that I could spend the day there—somewhere no one else would think to look for me!
When I moved to Vernon, someone mentioned Fairhaven to me. I went one day, and was overwhelmed by the place and the people. It boggled my mind that here was a retreat centre for church leaders that existed simply to help them on their journeys with God, their families, and their congregations. I was overwhelmed by the awareness that here was a place that took clergy and their needs seriously, and that recognized that the clergy come with spouses and children who also get caught up in the dynamics of congregational life. Many retreat centres exist that serve the needs of Christians in general. However, at Fairhaven, I had found something unique, a centre that existed for someone like me!
I had grown up with the image of the clergyperson as someone who always “did without”, and who suffered for the sake of Christ and His work. At Fairhaven, I was given the gift of a place where I could hear a different voice. This one said, “The work you do is precious and valuable”. In fact, you are precious and valuable, and we want to treat you with beauty and care so that you can sense the love that God has for you.”
When I come to Fairhaven, I know that I will be given the space and time I need to pray, meditate, sleep, walk, snowshoe, listen to Christ, listen to my heart, and to be filled with the Spirit’s life. Thank you for this welcoming, generous space of renewal in faith, hope, and love.
The Rev. Rita Harrison
All Saints Anglican Church