The transition of my stepping down as Prior involves a lot more people than me, of course, and we have begun that process.
Our practice in the past has been for the Superior to discuss the appointment of a new Prior with the Order's Council at Chapter (the annual meeting of the Order in June each year). Then the appointment is announced, the new Prior is appointed, and the transition begins.
This year Robert decided to try a new pattern. He met with the Council a couple of weeks ago, at the time of Br James' life profession, because all the members of the Council were going to be here for that event. A number of appointments had to be decided on because all of the terms of the Order's officers expire every three years, and that occurs next month. The Council discussed the proposed appointments, and consented to them, and Robert made the appointments at that time. This means that we now have a month or so of "Lame Duck" status. Br Scott will be the next Prior, and he will be installed on June 12, but the transition has already begun.
This has proved helpful in a number of ways. For one thing, doing it the old way was going to make for a very abrupt change, because I have to leave immediately after Chapter. Our friend Elizabeth, in whose house I will be living this summer, is leaving for a period of residence with our community in South Africa at the end of that week, and I have to be there for a couple of days before she leaves so I can learn what needs to be known about the house, and the care of the cat, and the relationship with the neighbors and all of that sort of thing. This would mean that, in fact, there would hardly be any transition time, and that didn't seem satisfactory. So the new way was proposed and agreed on.
Right after his appointment was announced Scott and I agreed that I would be in charge of anything happening between now and June 12 and he would be in charge of anything happening after that. It has worked very smoothly from my point of view. It has made a natural way of turning things over and has contributed well to the sense that things are changing, but at a measured pace and as a natural part of our life, which of course it is.
Scott set to work very quickly to organize things for his term. He has announced a couple of appointments of house officers and started to meet with the Brothers who will be on his Council. People are shifting into new positions. Shifts in work responsibilities are happening. For instance, Br Mark will be doing the Incense work while I'm gone. I've been working with him about this since last fall, but he has now taken over completely and is doing the work on his own, with a bit of looking over the shoulder from me. Br James, who has been doing all of our weekly work lists for a long time, has now offloaded that onto Br Julian, who took some time to learn this particular craft and is now doing it himself. Brothers seem to be taking their time making shifts and adjustments, and the process has been fairly placid.
But it has come along in a major way. Yesterday when I had finished writing some notes to people who had sent gifts to us, I realized that I had finished just about every administrative task that needs to be done. A couple of minor things remain - putting out the next preaching rota and getting the calendar of community events arranged for the time between now and June 12 - and then I will be done with the administrative part of the job. I have not been looking at this much free time in many years. It feels really nice.
Not that I lack for things to do. There are always files to clean out, and in my case, they date back to when I returned to this house from South Carolina in 1990. Fortunately most of that stuff can just be pitched at this point. Not much sorting, just into the trash can they go. I need to make sure that I have books that I want to take along organized and in a box. But just doing that makes clear that I'm now making detailed plans for the future and not wrapping up, so there's another shift.
It's been a good process, and I think it will serve the community well as the turning of things over continues. I'm grateful for the way it's going.