Good Shepherd is a wonderfully noisy parish. That is an unusual manner to begin a Shepherd’s Voice article. If you come to Good Shepherd during the week, chances are that you might just find that something is going on in one of the classrooms or Parish Hall or Undercroft or library. The noise reflects a dynamic life within Good Shepherd, as well as preparation for an active life in outreach just outside the walls of the church building itself. Check out your weekly email (Good Shepherd events), the website (goodshepherdhayesville.org), your bulletin insert, as well as your Vestry Person of the Day (VPOD) Sunday morning announcements to get a sense of the vibrancy of Good Shepherd. It is essentially the Nave that is quiet.
This description of Good Shepherd might take some kind of intellectual adjustment, as well as spiritual modification, especially if you have come from a wonderfully quiet parish that had a very parttime staff. This corresponds to the matching hours for their presence in the parish. Realistically not much is going on in the office nor in the rare classroom areas. Perhaps, not much is going on at all. Of course, a canonically-required Vestry meeting will happen on a monthly basis; the choir will most likely meet on a weekly basis. Also, the Altar Guild will come on Saturday morning to prepare the Altar for the upcoming Sunday worship. Furthermore, there will probably be an occasional gathering of some sort - a Lenten offering is an example. The Nave, however, is quiet.
I bring up the compare and contrast of a wonderfully noisy parish and a wonderfully quiet parish. Who is right? Who is wrong? Those are loaded questions. They certainly reflect diverse spiritual priorities, because they are both wonderful.
I would not want to write that one kind of parish is right, while the other kind of parish is wrong. It is not that simplistic. I can only respond from a personal, priestly point of view. There are times when a study – either continuing for years or encapsulated to a certain number of weeks or limited to a day – is precisely where I need to participate. Moreover, sometimes group meetings of new possibilities excite me. Other times I need the absolute silence and stillness of the Nave to get a literal sense of God’s holy presence.
If anything, I believe that wonderful noise and wonderful silence can complement one another. When it is only the spiritual offerings that I attend, ironically my soul reaches a point of exhaustion. When it is only the literal sanctuary of the Nave that calls out for my presence, there reaches what feels like a saturation point in my soul.
The spiritual life is never easy to balance. Furthermore, what is balance for one person may not be a balance for another. As we move into the extensive Church Season of Pentecost in May, use it as a season for spiritual growth. Maybe you need to be in the silence of Nave. Perhaps this is a time for you to try out other opportunities at Good Shepherd. There is only going to be one way to find out. As the Video on our website concludes – Come and See.