For the past two months I have been living with post-concussion syndrome after an incident that involved a bear, a rock and the rain.
The prognosis for me is very good. Improvement has been steady and gradual—sometimes too gradual for my liking—but likely I will not sustain any long-term damage. While I am beginning to feel well again, I am not convinced that I remember accurately what my pre-concussion state was. For example, I am coming to peace with living with a fairly constant ringing in my ears and it is beginning to feel like a regular part of me. My energy levels are not what I would like them to be, but I am adjusting my lifestyle to adapt to this reality. It is the new normal now, and I am able to find joy each day in many things.
During the recovery process I have spent time sitting silently in the dark contemplating many things and emptying my mind of restless and anxious thoughts: Will I ever feel like I used to? Will I be able to do all the things I want to do? What matters now is how I will move forward into the noise and the light.
Some of my silent reveries have been around the recent changes—some might even call them traumatic changes—that we as the Mennonite church have been experiencing. Perhaps we are also in a time of recovery and revival. This year has felt like we have sustained life-changing, transforming events. We’ve had budget shortfalls that have resulted in significant changes. We have listened, shared and discerned God’s will in a very fast-paced, socially changing environment. We have had several significant resolutions passed at our summer assembly in Saskatoon that will likely change the nature of our national church.
This bruising year has resulted in some injury. The fabric of our fellowship has been stretched and, in some cases, ripped. We have experienced tension in relationships. Disagreements have limited our ability to trust and to listen. We have ringing in our ears and we might do well to wonder what it means for us.
I am told that if I take care of myself my brain will repair itself. I am happy to trust the medical profession on this front. I know that we can trust the Creator of our universe and the head of our church to recreate in each of us relational equilibrium, missional creativity and ministry engagement. As this new church year begins I am looking forward to witnessing the continued anointing of the Spirit of God on the church. I am looking forward to a refreshed capacity to bring “good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, freedom for the oppressed and a bold proclamation of the year of the Lord’s favour” (Luke 4:18-19).
Ken Warkentin is executive director of Mennonite Church Manitoba. No bears were harmed in the making of this article.