When I pulled up this picture taken just after the service, I remembered how touching it was to be with all these colleagues, some who had been close to the In Care process, some who would become better friends later, some who seemed to show up that day at random, people who had Sunday afternoon free. Two, who had been my official advisors at various points along the way, now serve in other states. There were others, including two Associate Pastors from Large Church who assisted at Communion that day, who disappeared before the pictures. I remember being terribly nervous about the awesome task of speaking the old words before that particular congregation. "It’s like playing Hamlet in front of a theatre full of actors," I said, over and over in the weeks before.
Snowman, looking at pictures from this time, says we all look better now. I still think they were pretty cute.
It was a leave-taking of sorts as well as a celebration of a beginning, since a few weeks later we would begin our lives as Preacher and Preacher’s Kids, bidding farewell to Large Church, where we had all been nurtured for fifteen years. #1 Son came there as a toddler. Snowman and The Princess were baptized by Senior Pastors there and #1 Son had been confirmed that spring. In our lives, nothing had been more stable than the presence of Large Church, our home no matter what street we called our address. There we sang and prayed and laughed and cried and knew the love of God.
My friend, K, arranged much of what happened that day, did the bulletin with me and made sure it was gorgeous, coordinated the reception, and stood by, as you see her here on the left, smiling throughout the proceedings. Our oldest children went through Sunday School together. She came to help me pick up my house when I had been in the hospital in 1996 and could not get my act back together, walking patiently from room to room, setting things to rights so that the house cleaner my friends had banded together to hire could move through swiftly and get things into some sort of order.
On the right is another K, and how glad I was to see her that day! Several years into a battle with breast cancer, she amazed us with a good period, against the odds. I wish I could say she is still with us now. Her son and her niece were on the counseling staff with me at camp this summer, her daughter a lifeguard, and I marveled at how quickly time goes by.
I was a bride of two weeks that day. Pure Luck, not a church-going guy, got there early with us and pondered the service respectfully, then took off after to give then Puppy Molly her supper. I imagine he would have been more comfortable on a mountain somewhere.
He is still that tall.
We both have less hair.
The picture that became my purple avatar was also taken that day. When I sent Pure Luck a shot taken quickly on our computer camera yesterday, the one we sometimes use when chatting while he’s away, he suggested it might be time for an update, and so I have retired the purple bird.
That day five years ago was a big day and a happy day for a lot of reasons.
Yesterday was a small day and a happy day for no particular reason.
It seems like a good time for a change.
I wonder where we will find ourselves in five more years? #1 Son will
be out in the world (right, #1 Son?). Snowman will be 21. The Princess
will likely be Empress by that time, or at the very least a Senior in High School.
In five years, I have grown my way into the sacraments, experiencing them as more than an arrangement of elements and players, leaning into their living nature and the presence of God found in and through them. I have begun to find my voice for preaching and discovered that I cannot live without writing. My horizons have been expanded by friends far away in different denominations and no denominations.
What will God draw me toward on this next leg of the race? I am
beginning to discern a hint of the path. This is no predictable track
but a run across country, with new sights to apprehend. I bring a mildly obsessive level of commitment, a stubborn determination to get wherever God is sending me, a humble awareness of both my gifts and my flaws, and an excited curiosity to see what’ is out there.