Into the Day

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For the past three years, the solace, hope and strength of grace was offered in my night rambles.  In several posts in this time, I have talked about my encounters with owls.  The last two occurred in Nevada, when I was visiting my friend and colleague, Joe Duggan and his wife, and then last November, when Sherod and I spent time on Thanksgiving day with our dear friends Marsha and Cosby.  On our drive back to the hotel in Selma, an enormous owl swooped by us on a deep, dark night out in the Alabama countryside.    My friends here in Fort Lauderdale had been of the small, burrowing species. The times our paths crossed, I was in deep grief and their presence was of great consolation.  I came to believe that the unexpected encounters with the two far larger owls in some way represented a portend and presence far bigger and more significant.

Last night, Sherod announced to the joint vestries that comprise the New River Regional Ministry that I am resigning my position as priest-in-charge of St Ambrose and as lead clergy for the combined ministres of El Centro Hispano de Todos los Santos, St Ambrose and what is now the New River Academy.  We are still working out the exact date of my departure, though as of now, I don’t expect to be with NRRM longer than January 31st.

In three years, I have faced into three very significant losses and though comparisons are odious, resigning from my ministry with NRRM has required of me more health, clarity and strength than any of the others because it had to be a choice I made, a choice that involved letting go of a ministry I have loved beyond words.  I had to be willing to recognize that there were enormous ambiguities in my role.  I have a record in this ministry I am fiercely proud of.  And I am also the rector of All Saints’ wife.  Especially as NRRM began a transition with Sherod’s announced retirement, it was too much to ask the leadership team to sort out the complexity I brought to the position in that “both-and” of Sherod’s wife and priest-in-charge of the more vulnerable community.

The Episcopal Church continues to struggle to figure out the ways to make vulnerable communities–parishes that have been in a downward spiral, like St Ambrose, and emerging congregations in marginalized communities–viable.  During my tenure, a group of amazing people found the way to provide transformational ministries that were of a caliber that earned us the opportunity to become a United Way agency.  That’s a big deal.  But I was not able to put all the financial pieces in place to relieve the pressure on All Saints, our resource parish, and in these precarious times, that was a big deal too.  One that could not be ignored.

Finally, like any “mama”–and in some sense, I birthed this new ministry on the ragged edges of the Episcopal Church–I had to face into the truth that what was best for the ministries I am a part of had to come first, even if it felt like I was letting go prematurely (and don’t all parents end up thinking they’ve had to let go of their babies too soon?).  To embrace health and wholeness–NRRM’s and mine–meant not clinging to magical thinking or what had been.

Yesterday, in an interview in New York City  I got to hear myself and what I have learned about being a priest and professional (and I was both proud and a bit surprised to realize, again, just how much FedEx and my time with FedEx helped me become the priest I am today).  I have a lot of ministry left in me, whether it is in the position I interviewed for or another.

I got back to LaGuardia to find my original flight home was cancelled.  I was rebooked on another flight that left NYC in the wee hours of this morning .  During my long wait at LGA, I phoned in to participate in what is probably my last vestry meeting with NRRM and heard Sherod announce my resignation.  After I hung up, I went looking for a place to sit and had to settle for an empty baggage cart.  I leaned against one of its sides and found myself weeping about this new huge loss I must integrate into myself along with the others of these past few years.  I have kept praying for more simplicity in my life and I am being offered the gift.  It was a good and right and joyful thing, it turns out, to find a place to rest on an empty baggage cart.

I pulled into our driveway at 3:47 AM–ten minutes short of 24 hours after I started the day.  I slept till sunrise and am sitting writing this with the back doors of my home flung open to let in the light and mild breeze of a gorgeous South Florida morning.  On Jan 1, I go on a part-time schedule and it occurs to me that I am going to make sure at least some of my rambles start happening during the day.  That’s the walking I did in Tahoe and now it is time to discover what day brings in my everyday life.

6 thoughts on “Into the Day

  1. Insightful it seems and obviously painful! I suspect that means there’s an equal amount of joy on its way … keep watch!
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Rosa, God is clearly holding you in the palm of his gracious hand. These times are terribly, terribly tough for you and everyone involved, and I imagine they will remain so for a while. But our God is great and good, so we can move forward without fear. Whatever the future brings,I am glad that we have been lent to each other for this short while. 😉 Un enorme abrazo, Deb

  3. It is obvious that we have been out of each others lives for way too long. If you find yourself in need of some crazy fun then I have a farm house for you both. (Chickens, turkeys, ducks and dogs included) I would wait until late spring or early summer because right now there are NO mild breezes in the mid-west. I know you girl – you will find your way and land on those nice level feet! 🙂

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