View from the Road
By Katherine Higgins, Director of Community, Practice, and Member Development | August 13, 2018

I write this week from Decatur, GA, where the other directors and I have come to spend a week in the ACPE office. I always enjoy being in the office – the banter, the laughter, the opportunities for connection, and a reminder of our shared commitment to supporting the work of our organization. This week in Decatur marks one year since I’ve been in this role, and I’m taking the opportunity to reflect upon the work I’ve been doing – its meaning, its purpose, its joys, and my own opportunities for growth.

While hospitality has long been a part of my way of thinking (both theologically and practically – I am from the South, after all!) it has taken on new meaning as I’ve spent this year on the road. Many of you have shown me great hospitality as I’ve visited you in your Centers or in your Communities of Practice. You’ve welcomed me with a friendly face, with meals, with friendship and collegiality. For this, I am most grateful. Indeed, human connection is the heart of what we do, and loneliness is an occupational hazard.

Often, I’m asked how I’m enjoying the job, and what it’s like being on the road so much. I understand the questions. Being a road warrior is not a common experience for chaplains and educators. As a seven on the Enneagram, I love the adventure of the job:  visiting new places and learning about new cities and parts of the country. My extroverted side loves meeting new people and dreaming together about what is possible for our future. Learning about the creativity and ingenuity of our folks for developing programs in a variety of contexts is life giving. Which is a good thing because frequent travel can also be challenging. I am grateful for the support of my family, and especially the ways my spouse has taken on significant household responsibilities. I am still learning to maximize my schedule to make the most of my time at home and my time on the road.

Mostly, I am aware of the great privilege that it is to work in this way for our beloved organization. I am able to show up and reach out on behalf of the organization. I experience your hospitality and your welcome, and I pray that I am able to offer something of the same in return:  listening to your stories, your challenges, your celebrations, and sharing a sense of welcome and invitation, even as I am receiving your hospitality.

Last year at our annual conference, Greg Ellison invited us all to participate in the “Three Feet Challenge.” Giving each of us a yardstick, he invited us to consider the concrete ways that we might work to change the world by changing the three feet surrounding us at any given time. By engaging those we encounter face-to-face with openness, and curiosity, compassion and love, we can create the world we want to inhabit.

In such a way, we are already building (or, perhaps more aptly:  remodeling) the ACPE we wish to create. Thank you for welcoming me in all the ways you have. I pray that I am able to return the favor.

Katherine Higgins is a Director of Community, Practice, and Member Development at ACPE: The Standard of Spiritual Care & Education. She may be reached at  katherine@acpe.edu.
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