The work is finally done. There was nothing easy about the Rite of Burial we celebrated on Saturday morning for Vera Jane. I will always remember how small that little casket was in such a big soaring space at Church of the Ascension, how tenderly she was carried in. I also carry the awe that hundreds of people gathered not just around her but her family, to walk with them through this valley of the shadow of death. The light shines, and darkness has not overcome it.
Going from that service, to the service and party for my leave-taking from Ascension just 24 hours later, was a little disorienting. I am glad I was then able to load up my car, put Tux in her car seat, and drive away to spend a couple of days by myself at a friend’s lake home. All we had, Tux and I, was the water, the breeze whispering through the oak trees, and, very occasionally, the honk of geese flying overhead. Another friend had said I needed some days of weeping and prayer—what I realized was I needed those days as days of weeping, for sure. They were also days of prayer, because I had just surrendered myself into a future not of my own making (and I do so like to believe it is mine to shape). Above all, they were days of thanksgiving. I’ve already started writing my thank you notes, but the gratitude I leave Ascension with goes far deeper than a thank you note could convey. It is the kind of thankfulness that only means something if you give it forward.
As I slowly skeine these days of sabbath, preparing for the time ahead, they bring with them half-formed ideas, new bits and pieces of possibility that will be there for me to unwrap bit by bit as I make Holy Comforter my new faith community and home. I stop to acknowledge them and then trust I will be able to explore them more fully in due time. These days are about trying my best to be simply present to this moment, this now. When I was ordained a deacon, one of the pieces we sang during communion that evening was the Taize setting to Santa Teresa de la Cruz’s beautiful prayer: nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you, whoever has God, lacks nothing, only God is enough.
I love this prayer for many reasons, including because I get to pray it in my first language. It is when I pray in Spanish that I seem to be most able to simply unclench my hands, hold them open, in quiet and trust. While Sherod watches the Bama game on Saturday, I will go into my new office to start putting my books and tchotchkes in their new places. I will take the prayer with me. I’m glad for a few hours of work that, like my days at the lake, will be carried out in silence and simplicity. Because then, when Monday finally arrives, and I hold my first staff meeting at 9:00 am, it’s time to lean, ‘all in’.