I miss blogging. I miss reading. I miss feeling relaxed.

I haven’t been posting much on this site over the last few months. The reason is simple. Time and energy.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to burnout in my life. The past few months was nothing more than a staggering amount of meetings, demands on my time and travel. Exhaustion has been my life.

I’m also involved with a “learning circle.” It’s a group of people who gather to discuss a topic online/conference call once a month. After our last meeting in mid-November I had two emails come in. One from a friend and one I don’t know at all. Both expressing concern for me just by the sound of my voice.

A couple weeks later I received a phone call.

The stranger took her concern to her knitting/prayer group at her church. She simply stated that she was concerned for our young clergy and what they are being burdened with in the church, indicating this came from a talking to one recently.

They talked and decided they wanted to do something, so one of them went back to the minister and said they wanted to send something to this “one” wherever he is.

Two days ago I got another call from my new friend. A “box of hugs” would be on the bus tomorrow (yesterday).

I picked up a package this morning. It’s far larger than I expected!

So I opened it.

Immediately I recognize a prayer shawl with a note attached to it.

There was a letter wrapped in the fold of the shawl. It read:

Dear Rev. Nick,

Rev. Sally recently requested during a knitting group (we knit and crochet prayer shawls for this who are in need of a “hug”) that we say a small prayer for you and your daunting tasks in Cape Breton.

Two of our ladies groups soon decided that you really could do with a “hug”.

We are sending you a box full of “hugs” and also a great big “thank-you” for doing God’s work.

Wishing you and those you love a very merry Christmas.

The ladies from the Fellowship Group and
The Knitting and Crocheting Group,
Forest Hills United Church, Dartmouth

And opening the shawl more I see this!

These wonderful, caring ladies sent all sorts of comfort, hugs, to someone they have never met. Among the hugs are jams and jellies, candies, gloves and mittens, all sorts of “hugs!”

The Sunday School even got involved.

The other part of the story I haven’t told yet, is that this is a church that has been struggling in recent years. There has been some conflict, there have been people leaving. They have struggled for decades to find their “outreach” to the community. In fact, the minister tells me they’ve never had much to do with outreach ever. This is their first.

God is at work in the world my friends. My tired voice on a conference call last month moved some women to reach out to me, someone they have never met.

So I ask you to pray for Forest Hills United Church in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. They clearly have wonderful hearts and God is using them to touch souls. Including mine.

Thank you to my new friends at Forest Hills. May God bless you abundantly as you continue to seek where he is calling you to serve. I hope someday I can thank you for your generous gift in person. I accept this gift with a heart full of thanks, and do so on behalf of all young clergy who are struggling to find a way to balance our busy lives, especially this time of year.

May the peace of Christ be with all you this season.