I have been in Western Jurisdictional meetings here in Portland, Oregon since Friday last week. It's been a long weekend of meetings. Fruitful and productive, of course. But long.
We ended yesterday (Monday) late afternoon and I found myself with a lot of free time before my flight late this afternoon. Here's how I filled it: I slept-in a little, got caught-up with emails, made necessary phone calls and... went for a long run! There's nothing like a nice, long run to decompress after a long weekend of meetings.
And it did just that- it helped me decompress. Runs always have that effect on me. That's one of the reasons why I run. It clears my head. It allows me to organize random thoughts. It helps me crystallize ideas. It helps me reflect. And that's why I am cranky on days when I don't get a run in.
On today's run, I followed a trail that was parallel to the Willamette River on my right and the Portland International Airport on my left. Mid-run, I found a fork on the trail and decided to turn left as my sense of bearing suggested that that would take me back to my hotel. As I rounded the bend, the trail straightened out again for about 100 feet before a sharp 90 degree turn to the left. What caught my attention was that the airport runway was down the trail, perfectly lined-up.
As I ran down, I imagined myself being a pilot lining up my plane for landing. As coincidence would have it, a plane suddenly roars behind me getting ready to land. I stopped and pulled out my phone. I had to take a picture!
After the photo-op, I made my way down the rest of the trail and into the 90 degree turn. Then the idea for this blog struck me. Like I said, great thoughts and ideas come to me when I run.
I reflected on the scene I just saw: a plane landing. Beginning tonight, my family and I are going on a much needed vacation and time away. I have served one year as Superintendent of the Alaska United Methodist Conference. Today, I felt like I have successfully landed my inaugural flight.
"Flight #1 has landed!", I said to myself as I ran the trail back. I looked back and reflected on the past year. It was a new rhythm of ministry that stretched me in so many ways. It was a blessed year of getting to know people in our different ministry settings all across the conference and seeing the great things happening in those communities in the name of Jesus. It was a year of saying goodbye to colleagues and welcoming new ones. It was a year of connecting for mission and ministry. It wasn't all smooth flying, for there were turbulent skies of conflict and trying situations. But overall, its been a great first year and I thank all of you who were on this maiden voyage with me. Today, I celebrate God and you. "Flight #1 has landed. Thanks be to God!"
But now, I need to take a break for a while. The plane needs to be cleaned. It needs to be checked to make sure it is safe to fly again. It needs refueling. The pilot and crew need to rest. The next flight plans need to be drawn up. Thank you for giving me and my family time and space to relax and rest. And when I get back, I hope that you will join me for "Flight #2 with non-stop service to God and God's people in Alaska and beyond."
Your fellow disciple,