Endings & Beginnings

One week.  
This massive experience- larger than life, richer than I could have hoped, deeper than I’ve ever gone, more stretching than I’ve ever imagined– is ending. Just one week left– even less than that were I to be honest with myself!  
The ending days have been powerfully wonderful as I’ve been able to adventure with Karen first in Ireland then England. It has been a blessed and good reunion. We’ve laughed deeper and longer than before, had some good, deep, building conversations and have shared our hopes and dreams for the future.  

There have been fun meals — even Karen’s first visit to the thunder, lightning, rain and animals of the Rainforest Cafe in London –walks through our past as we visited the places we met and hung-out in, in 1978, incredible theater and concerts.  

The stroll down memory lane took us to visit Muswell Hill, the area of north London where we had lived with our home stays as students. We found our original home-stay houses, the churches we each attended, the busses and tubes we rode, the laundromats visited, and places we walked. Most significantly we walked through Alexandra Park where back in 1978 on a midnight walk “my face fell off,” as Karen says, meaning, suddenly she saw the person behind the mask, a ‘cute guy with a crinkly smile,’ she loved. 

We realized as we walked that path how much it was a life metaphor as we continue to walk a path together. 

We also went to Russell Square and walked to the pharmacy school where we had had all our classes. The building had been updated inside and the exterior was covered with scaffolding as renovations continue. New bag checks and student scanners are now installed, and kept is from wandering in.  

As we entered and told the guard how we had attended classes there 38 years ago, he told the head cheese who gifted us with two huge pictorial books describing the century old school. He also arranged for us to tour the entire five story building! In that tour we did discover what had become of our classroom, and visited all the floors we never went in 1978…🤔

Our last weekend in London we took in two more plays, worship at St Paul’s, the London Transport Museum and the Tate Gallery.  
Beyond that list of places, events and experiences were emotions. Deep joy seems paramount these days. And, running second, alongside the joy, there are tears. 
Coming to the ending of this journey has my heart tender. I’m not sad to be to the end, I’m really excited to see what the Lord has planned next as the Camino of life continues, but there’s a definite end approaching. And this tenderness of heart comes with tears. 
I’ve seen this at several points and have written of those along the way. Most recently was when we went to see the play “Beautiful” in London. 

It was last November when I was in London visiting that I saw the play “Beautiful: the Carole King Musical” up on the Aldwych Theatre marquee, and thought then how much I’d like to see it when Karen and I came this fall. 

Carole King’s first album was “Tapestry,” it released in 1971, when I was in seventh grade, during a difficult period of life. Hearing her sing “You’ve Got a Friend” was a message I had needed. I learned to play her music in the next few years, and played and loudly sang her songs in my living room during high school. 
In a sense, I grew up on her music. 
Karen and I made no advance plans for specific plays. We are well-acquainted with the London West End and how to get last minute, great tickets. Karen was not certain about “Beautiful,” but, over the year, we kept it in mind. 
It was one of those “I need to see that play” feelings, for me. And Karen was totally in favor of me going alone, if she decided not to take it in. But as we entered the week she knew she needed to see it with me. She had this correct sense that I would need a witness there for me and perhaps, she might even enjoy it. In the end, we both went and enjoyed it immensely.
The Saturday afternoon matinee was played to a packed house. The story enacted is Carole King’s early life history through her Carnegie Hall performance June 18, 1971.  
It’s easily the best and most unique life story musical I’ve ever seen. The quality of the production was stellar; the creative presentation was marvelous as it wove Carole’s life story with her music.  
As I was sitting there the tears began. By the end, I was crying and couldn’t stop.  Karen was so present with me for this.  Even as we left the theatre after the play, my tears continued. I couldn’t quite identify the reason.  
As I wrote about the experience, what came to light is how much my heart has been awakened to feel at a new level. The play reminded me of where my broken heart was when I was belting out her songs as a teen. And it reminded me of how much my own heart has been touched since then and again now by this journey. 
The heart that flew off to Ireland, August 17th, was different than the one that will fly back to Portland this Friday. God’s changed it, He’s awakened it, He’s done what He promised, replaced the hard  parts with tender flesh. The change is real. So the fact that the sabbatical time is ending is good. I need to learn to live from this new place– tears and all. And won’t that be … beautiful!

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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5 Responses to Endings & Beginnings

  1. Cesie says:

    Amen, Brian. Praise God for your walk. The Camino of Life continues – and it is and will be

    Liked by 1 person

  2. MJE says:

    You are such a bright light Brian. Can’t wait to have your light shining brightly back in Portland. Thank you for sharing your adventure and growth.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ewhjrh@frontier.com says:

    Dear Pastor Brian,Just want to thank you for so faithfully “sharing” your camino experience with your “flock”.  I have so enjoyed “seeing” it thru your words.  Anxious to see you!  Jan H 

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Dresden, Germany | caminowalk2016

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