Photo: Alex Markovich. Camera: SONY DSC-R1. July 2014.

via Old School Fence #3 — MARKOVICH PHOTO ART

As he shook my hand, Mark, my friend and the pastor of St Andrew’s Lutheran down the street, said, “Brian, I cannot make the next lunch, so this is the last time I will see you before you leave on Sabbatical. Have a life-changing trip. I’ll see you when you get home.” I was stunned!

It was five years back that Mark and Curtis, both Cedar Hills pastors, first began to encourage me to take a sabbatical.

Then it was in January of 2014 that idea of walking the Camino first was dropped into my heart. And then in August 2014 the church and I began to plan toward that very event. Two years of planning, the Lily Grant, and now, I am down to the countdown. “This is the last time I will see you…”

I’ll preach just 7 more times. My worship design team will meet just 5 more times. Many that I see at Annual Conference this week I’ll be seeing for the last time. The board I am on for the nonprofit called “Be One Church” has planned a special send-off dinner for June 23rd. I met with the Camino Planning Team for the last time this past week.

All these “last things” remind me of the message preached by Jimmy Gibson, March 31, 1983, called “The Importance of Last Things” in which, among other “lasts” he recalled his departure from his beloved Ireland, and kissing his mom goodbye “one last time” before boarding the ship that would take him from Ireland and her. He would not see her again before she died. That was the message that God cemented in my mind (who remembers a message from 33 years ago?) in order to use it as a part of my call into ministry that year. Now all these new, important “last things.”

These endings and countdowns at first brought fear! The “What ifs” paraded through my heart: What if it doesn’t achieve what I’d hope? What if the Camino doesn’t change me? What if I return just as spent as I feel now? What if the church doesn’t regain their spiritual fire they seek? What if all this work becomes like chaff, blown away by the wind?

Then, Friday night, a week back, at dinner with my wife Karen, she shared into these questions, and God used her words to shift the pendulum in my heart from fear to joy and a deep-seated confidence in God’s great plan.

Suddenly the narrative became: “Wow, Lord, what are you going to be able to do with this massive commitment?”

We have plans for the church, including part-time Pastor Bonnie Vance coming on staff and a great line up of some nationally known sabbatical speakers. Walkers are planning to race to the coast in the Portland-to-Coast relay, the church plans to reach beyond my 1,000,000 steps on the Camino by all walking here, dinner groups will meet, book studies will be in place, a craft show and a women’s retreat are planned.

On the flip side of this activity, I’ll be paring down my life. First, I’ll be playing with my family for a week at the coast, and then be walking, eating, sleeping and praying, listening for God to speak into the silence of my soul while walking the Camino in Spain and then I’ll stop, paint and pray in Ireland, seeking God in those “thin places” there in that land. I’ll end with family, as Karen comes to join me for the last three weeks in Ireland and then England for our 35th wedding anniversary.

God is going to use this intentionality.

So—I’m going to rejoice. I’m going to enjoy the countdown and the goodbyes and these days to departure. What a great adventure awaits and is occurring along this Camino!









About Camino Way 2016 Shimer

On August 22, 1981 I married this wonderful woman, Karen, who has consistently blessed and changed my life and days. We are still in love, all the more with the years. We have four daughters, two sons by marriage, and three delightful, wonderful grandchildren. So, that makes me a husband, father, and grandfather all in those sentences. But mostly just a guy who loves my family. Today Karen and I planted beautiful plants in numerous pots. She had come home with the plants and that experience reminded me how much I enjoy simple things and simple pleasures -- like digging in dirt to plant a flower, like sunlight through glass on a spring day, like clean windows -- just washed ours today -- like a melody that won't escape from my heart. I've been a local church pastor for 30 years as of this June, a number that staggers me for I feel about that age on the inside, but clearly that's not the case. Back in 1988 I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary with an Mdiv-- a time of schooling that has been a foundation for years of ministry. But it is mostly in the building upon that foundation, that has most changed my life. I love people, love seeing Jesus work in people's lives. One of my favorite joys is to pray with someone through some horrible place of memory and see Jesus walk right into their memory world, and turn on the lights in a way that sets their soul free and brings healing. There's nothing like this privilege and I have been there to watch it happen more times than I can count. Between 4 and 7 the associate pastor of my family's congregation sexually abused me, first grooming me, then repeatedly violating my young self. This marked my life. It changed my bearings. It ripped at my faith. It wounded my image of what it meant to be a little boy, and later a man. It has been a point from which I have been in the process of healing for many years now. I'm a survivor, but more than that, I am one who lives beyond what was done. For in the middle of all that stuff, Jesus was calling me, speaking to me, bidding me to follow him to bring change to people's lives within the realm of the very office that was used to harm me. Only Jesus can make light from darkness, hope from despair, and healing from brokenness. I love Jesus. He really is alive, no matter what others may believe. And his life, his presence, his words into my world, his healing power have continued to be the foundation point of what it means to experience life to the fullest. I love writing. I don't really know why on that score for really writing has never been a central tool in my world, nor has it come easily. But I love seeing how words released heal. And I love the way words can connect me to other people's worlds. So, that's why I started blogging. It began because I was planning to blog on a weekly basis when I went to walk the Camino de Santiago last fall. And in order to be able to blog while walking, I knew I had to begin to practice blogging before I was in another country. A friend told me that. Friends are good to help us find ways to live more authentically into our daily lives! So, I started. But what I have discovered is there is something powerful about sharing the story of life with others. So, I have continued. And I love the connections being built through those words. In 2011 I experienced my first seminar in Simply the Story, a bible story telling method that involves those listening in discussion and I decided then -- "this is what I plan to do when I retire." But really-- "why wait until then?" -- so I use this method while I continue pastoring. It sets people free and allows the Word to take root in ways that preaching never has. So again and again I am practicing asking questions and that is good practice for me, because I am frequently better at "telling" than "asking." This has been such a freeing gift. I love training others in this skill. So, a storyteller would certainly be true of me too. Years ago I discovered my mission in life is "the joyful transformation of people's lives through the person of Jesus Christ." And that continues to be where I find my home base, in joy. Where there is joy, I find, there is Jesus, and there is the possibility of transformation. Of course Jesus is in places where there is no joy as well, and once He is there, the place kind of changes because of Him. I love that.
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1 Response to Departures

  1. David Luce says:

    So glad to get your recent blog. It seems clear to me that you will influence many people for good through your time with the Camino.

    Now could we fix to skype one another? Let me know what would be a good time for you.

    All my love,


    Liked by 1 person

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