Where do we go to find God?
Or better, where in the world does God seek us out?
I read these words months ago when I was prepping a sermon and they stuck with me. This past week, I had the sinking realization that my well was nearly empty. Several 12 hour work days combined with endless deadlines and people hurting in my congregation—and I found myself in tears on Thursday morning admitting to a beloved person in my life that I fear burn-out. This is not an uncommon story for clergy; even The New York Times covered Clergy Burnout a few years ago. The scary statistic I’ve heard is that 1 out of 2 ministers leave ordained ministry within our first 7 years of service. Various reasons are cited, various explanations for how to combat this grim statistic. All I know is that I want to be one of the ministers who stays.
I knew where I needed to go and what I needed to do. On Saturday, I drove to one of my favorite beaches in New Hampshire. I discovered Bass Beach this past summer and it has become one of my holy places, one of my thin places, one of the places where I go to find God, and one of the places where God seeks me out.
Whereas most of the beaches along Ocean Avenue in and around Rye, New Hampshire are established State Parks, my little rocky cove is hard to find. It’s this hidden gem that is supposedly a haven for surfers—surfers in New Hampshire? Yes, it’s true!
We can’t care for others if we don’t care for ourselves. We can’t preach the abundance of God’s love if our own wells are empty—this much I have learned in almost three years of ordained ministry.
So I drove in the midst of a snowstorm and found myself on Bass Beach, sitting on a rock, mesmerized by the ocean, letting the snow blow in my face, and having an important conversation with God. Prayer, to me, has always been a conversation with God—give and take, deeply honest, unburdening my soul, being in God’s presence, and listening for God’s voice. That’s what I did on Saturday. Just the sound of the waves washing along the shore soothed my soul. Even seeing the rocks rooted in the earth served as an important reminder of my need to be grounded in God, always. If you’ve never gone to a beach in New England in the winter, take the time to go. New Hampshire, the North Shore, the Cape—just go. I only hope that we all have places where we go to find God, and discover the places where God truly does seek us out.
Where do YOU go to find God?
Where in the world does God seek YOU out?
 Paul Vitello, “Taking a Break from the Lord’s Work,” August 1, 2010, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/02/nyregion/02burnout.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0