Where has the time
gone?! It is almost nineteen years since I first walked through
the Centreís front doors to begin my time as a member of the
program staff. I was somewhat anxious, but mostly I remember the
excitement of beginning a new ministry. Never did I dream, at
that time, that I would be writing retirement reflections from
this same place.
How fortunate I am
to be able to say that I enjoy coming to work just as much now,
during my last year on staff as I did during my first year. Why
has this ministry been so life giving to me over the years? A
look at a few of the images in my virtual memory book will help
to answer that question.
The first image is
an aerial view of the Centre property on the shore of Echo Lake
nestled between the hills. My experience tells me that this is,
indeed, a sacred place that welcomes and nourishes those who
spend time here.
The next image is
one you will recognize. Itís the staff seated on a picnic table
having its picture taken for the Program Calendar. What you do
not see; what only I can see in my virtual image is that all the
staff with whom I have journeyed are gathered for the photo.
These exceptional people have been a source of encouragement
and support for me in so many ways. They breathe life into the
day to day working of the centre and help make it the sacred
place it is. As I look at this image, I realize once again that
they have been, and are, so much more than colleagues.
The third image is
of a small group of people who are gathered with me around a
flip chart as we plan one of the 380 or so programs for which I
have been responsible over the years. I have been so blessed to
work with these remarkable volunteers. The time, conversations
and laughter we shared made the planning seem more like play
than work. I am so grateful for their generosity of time, skill
And the last image
I want to show you is one of a circle of people gathered to
participate in one of the programs offered by the Centre.
Whatever the program or its length, what I remember and value
most is the deep privilege it was to walk with these people for
a brief time on their journey of personal and spiritual growth.
There are many
sustaining memories I will take with me when I retire, but,
above all else, it is the people who will be in the picture
whenever I close my eyes and think back over the many
unforgettable years I have experienced here at the Centre.
~ Jim Von Riesen