Welcome home

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Many years ago now—before the turn of the century, imagine that!—I found my way back into the Episcopal Church after a long period of anger and alienation. The place that opened its doors and said, “welcome home” was All Saints Church in Fort Lauderdale.

My husband was first hired as the Associate Rector there, after I had accepted a promotion with FedEx that required me to move to Southeast Florida. Within months after his hiring, the person who was rector was deposed (suspended from ministry) and renounced his orders after charges of significant clergy misconduct were brought against him. Sherod was named interim rector and ultimately, the Bishop of Southeast Florida, Cal Schofield, made an exception and allowed him to remain as the rector.

I have learned about the ways in which a whole system, a whole family, a whole congregation, plays a part in its health or sickness. The rector at All Saints was the person who most visibly failed, but there was a deeply entrenched  culture of silence and secrets. So many knew something was not right and said nothing. It took such brave lay people to finally stand up and say, “no more.” One of the promises Sherod made to himself and to All Saints when he was made rector was that he would do what he could to open space for truth and honesty.

One of the truths that had to be faced and embraced was the number of LGBTQ people who came to church at All Saints. Everyone was welcome—but that part of the family could not be open about who they were. It was a classic “don’t ask, don’t tell” kind of place. Over about 3 years, there was conversation. There was some education and formation. There were some very ugly confrontations as well, and good people who loved their church decided to leave. Those losses were real and they left us diminished; for the remainder of our time at All Saints, there were people Sherod and I continued to miss.

Coming out to ourselves was very, very hard.

But those of us who stayed and worked, worshipped, loved, sometimes fought, and almost always laughed, were invited deeper into God’s generous and extravagant life. Matthew Shepherd was brutally killed right in the middle of that time; the way he was killed was so violent it left us wordless. A few years later, Gene Robinson was elected Bishop of New Hampshire. An openly gay man was elected to the vestry at All Saints. So were lesbian women. One served with me as the lay leader of our youth programs at All Saints; I remember Katie and I talking about bullying with our youth as we sat around a table and talked about the challenges of being a teenager. She was an amazing youth leader. We continued to be church.

In 2012, after the Episcopal Church approved the blessing of same gender marriages, nine couples who were members at All Saints, gay and lesbian, who had been married in other parts of the country, because Florida did not allow same gender marriage, gathered with Sherod and planned a shared service of blessing of their marriages. Between them, they had over 240 years of committed relationship. One of the youngest had an absolutely delicious little son. We all were concerned for one of the couples who had been together the longest. One of them had dementia and we all held our breath, praying R would be able to be cognitively present that day. He was. All Saints has a balcony and as they processed out at the end of the service, several people threw rose petals on them from the balcony.

One of the loveliest moments of those years occurred when Bishop Robinson came to visit at All Saints. He was with us over a weekend, preached, broke bread with us, brought a gentle spirit with him that graced us all.

On this day when, thank God, no lives were lost despite the fact that 13 bombs were mailed out, the starkness of fear, turned to anger, turned to hate, turned to violence, weighs heavy. Today is also the day that Matthew Shepard’s remains were laid to rest at the National Cathedral. I watched most of the service on YouTube. Bp Robinson is retired now, and as he processed in, carrying Matthew, he was older, more stooped than when I met him. I imagined how incredibly bittersweet that moment must have been for him. The violence of Matthew’s death surely haunts and grieves Bp Robinson to the core, even 20 years after Matthew was killed. The honor of being the person bringing Matthew’s remains home must have been piercingly beautiful for Bp Robinson.

To me, some of the scariest ‘cinematographic’ moments are ones when someone is out on ice and it starts cracking more and more quickly, giving out from under the person and plunging her or him into water so cold it can kill in minutes. Sometimes these days, it feels like in this time and this place, we are standing on ice cracking and giving out beneath us. Today was like that for me. And then I remembered today was the interment of Matthew’s ashes. I watched how, in the chancel of the National Cathedral, an old man who wept frequently during his homily, who was dwarfed by the space he occupied, and who got a long standing ovation as he finished preaching, reminded us all that we are called to anamnesis. A remembering that makes events of the past ours, and challenges us to remember in order to be transformed. A remembering that loves and works for twenty years to find a place safe enough, and loving enough, to receive the ashes of a young man who others were so scared of, they killed him.  It was my church, the Episcopal Church that finally said to Matthew, “Welcome home,”  as it had to me all those years ago.

A new season

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Blessing of the Animals at Holy Comforter, October 7, 2018. Photo by Harrison Black

It seemed like autumn would never reach Alabama, and as always, it’s happened in fits and starts, with small harbingers I’ve had to be vigilant to notice.  The red spider lilies have just about run their course for the year, their long, fragile, awkward stems topped with a small burst of fire that waves with the wind of each car that zooms past on Old Selma Road.  Very close behind the lilies came the peak bloom season for the wild black-eyed susans. Maybe because we had good rain all through the summer, not too much, not too little, they too were resplendent, flames of deep yellow beauty.  I fought the impulse to stop and pick a bunch to put in a vase at home. I wondered if I should run home for my camera. Instead, I pulled my car off to the side of the road one afternoon, after the sun had begun to set, and allowed my eyes to feast on their glory.

Last Friday evening, Sherod and I were driving to a gathering in downtown Lowndesboro, when a doe came out from one side of Hwy 29/Broad Street and started across the road at a pace so sedate we both worried that someone else, coming down the road fast,  would have run into her.  Sherod coaxed her on all the way across, saying “Oh little doe, hurry, hurry, that’s how you get killed,” She’d already made it to the brush alongside the road when all of a sudden, a small, white spotted fawn darted across the road too, following mama.  It  happened so fast. Those creatures were exquisite.

For me, the new season as priest-in-charge at Holy Comforter, has also begun.  On the first Sunday, I looked out at the congregation and thought my heart would burst. So many faces filled with expectation. In the past, there was an almost complete break with what had gone before, when I started a new assignment.  Last Sunday, a few people from Ascension came to my first service at Holy Comforter.  I can feel the tears start to sting behind my eyes when I think about that. People I love and respect walked with me to a new place, not to cling, or deny endings and beginnings, but to remind me that a thin gold thread of grace weaves all my beginnings and endings together, into a whole that I call my life, and is more filled with love than I could ever earn or deserve.

And then, so much to think about, so much to do.  I have gained a lot of experience and knowledge through 35 years of work and ‘adulting’.  What I’ve realized in these past 2 weeks is how much of that I held in check for the past three years because I needed to honor the boundaries of my role as associate rector.  That actually took more energy than I knew.   I am so happy, dusting off old practices; there’s “muscle memory,” like riding a bike, about how I serve in a broader leadership capacity. The knowledge just falls back into place, piece by piece, as I go through my days at the church.  I already love my new parish—the red doors and the somewhat creaky, but resonant, bell we ring for services each Sunday.  I have been the recipient of so many big and small gestures of generosity and kindness.  The work is hard and the challenges significant for all Episcopal churches, especially the ones, like Holy Comforter, that must learn how our identity is ‘re-formed’ when the neighborhood around us has changed dramatically.  Holy Comforter and I must learn again and anew, what it means to be people of the cross and resurrection.  

It is a good, and right, and joyful thing to be starting in this new ministry as fall begins, when the leaves fall off the trees and it seems like there is nothing left but grey, cold, lifeless limbs, lifted up to the heavens in silent plea.  I think we too must allow ourselves to be stripped of false pretenses, our ever-so easy answers and the ability to distract and be distracted.  I have learned that it is in this kind of time that I am able to see more clearly that which is most essential, most true, about my life and my faith.

Evolution

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Take I

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Take II

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Take III

I figured out, this is my 6th church office. There are some pieces that have been with me all along. A whole lot of them are gifts, each with a story I get to remember, as I find their new places in the new office. There are so many stories of goodness. This time around, there is a very strong sense of the ways in which all those stories have shaped my understanding of myself as a person who happens to be an ordained Episcopal priest. I have stopped presuming I know how any one of my calls fits in the larger scheme of things–the path has taken so many unpredicted turns.  Now, I see more clearly how all the stories, the successes, the failures, maybe especially, the things I didn’t know I didn’t know, have prepared me to say this yes with more trust in God’s generosity than I’ve ever had before.  Out of the chaos of moving, there is a new creation slowly emerging and good work already underway. AMDG

Nada te turbe

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’.

 

Until the work is done

 

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My Dahlias in Bloom

Last Sunday, at about 5 o’clock in the evening, I hit send on an email and that was it.  The very last item on my to-do list for Ascension. It was some paperwork I had to do for a couple that’s getting married, and it was joyful work. I thought, ‘was a lovely way to end this run.’ There had been a somewhat rough pair of moments earlier in the day, as I got to the end of my sermon at each of the 2 services. There was all manner of kindness and grace showered on me as I said some more goodbyes. After the principal service I did an adult Baptism. Repeatedly at the communion rail in the three or so preceding hours, I had looked at chubby, gorgeous little babies and thought, “I baptized you.” “And you.” “And you too.” One, who I saw for the first time at the rails as a days-old infant, reached out a little hand, looked me in the eye, and waited. Until that moment, I had always given him a blessing at the rail. Now, he was ready to participate in communion and I swear, these littlest ones amongst us know, in a way I wonder if we grown-ups know, about the mystery of kinship when we gather around God’s table. To have seen all those little ones and then, dip into the holy oil and make the sign of the cross on the forehead of a beautiful woman who has endured much and still believes in love, to say to her, “you are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own for ever: was indescribably beautiful.

By Monday morning, I was full throttle into puttering mode—a long lunch with a new and already dear friend, some cleaning and straightening out (way more left to do), a culinary adventure. I don’t know what got into me that made me decide I should make the Mexican version of Matzo Ball Soup—I read the recipe in the NY Times, it sounded good and I said, “I can make that.” Well, I could make the soup part—it is pretty spectacular. The Matzo balls? Uhhh. Not so much. Don’t know if I will ever practice again, but it was fun. More small projects and appointments and errands I’d put off for months and falling into bed at night without a worry, to sleep deeply, peacefully.

Several times, while I waited for Tux to pee this week, I got to stand for a long while admiring the dahlias I planted this spring, my first time ever, that have now bloomed. Last evening, Sherod and I splashed about in the pool late in the afternoon and I told him I wasn’t sure I could ever remember being so filled with simple contentment.

When I looked at my phone this morning, there was a text. That beautiful little girl I wrote about in the previous post was actively dying—and then died this afternoon. I will do the Rite of Burial for her on Saturday morning, a service that is as much about grieving as giving joyful thanks for a little life that was infinitely precious and beautiful. I am blessed to have the help of a fellow clergy woman who will officiate with me at the service and one day will baptize little V’s sister. Usually we have several days to prepare for a service like this, usually I am not on vacation. Never before had I actually already handed in my church keys because that was all I had left to do. In ministry, usually and never are probably not words that can get used a lot so these next two days will be busy.

Tonight Sherod and I had several friends over for a dinner we’d planned several weeks ago and the company was lovely. I wished, though, that I could be in two places at once—with a family bearing such grief, as well as with the people who laughed and giggled through dinner, telling tall Southern tales and having a Colombian meal. Tomorrow I will be back at the office, meeting V’s parents to finish planning what none of us ever want to plan for a beloved child. My colleague/friends at Ascension and I will do the work of coordinating with printers, getting bulletins folded, following up about flowers and whether or not the children’s pall at Ascension will work for Saturday.

Here’s what I think as I gather my thoughts late in the evening: you grab contentment and give thanks when you can. You make every effort to be a presence of some little bit of grace when the world has ended for a family. You make your peace with what you know you will not get to do for them, though you’d want to. And no matter how much you thought your work was done in one place, as you get ready to go to another, you accept that the work is not done till it is done.

I’ll need to figure out how to grab a bit more time of rest before too long—that thing of self-care comes into clearer focus on a night like tonight. But I stopped and reclaimed my Ascension keys for this weekend. I will fall asleep tonight praying for a mom and dad, a little sister, aunts and uncles, and puppy dogs and so many others, who will have a hole in their heart after today. It all gets distilled down to that amazing line by Buechner: “This is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” That line will guide me until the work is done.

Anniversary

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Three years ago, today, I began to serve as Associate Rector at Church of the Ascension.  It’s been such a bittersweet morning of reflection for me. The passage from Deuteronomy that we will hear tomorrow and which will be, in part, what I preach about, has Moses preparing to re-present the Ten Commandments as the Israelites are about to enter the promised land, a land he will not cross into with them.  Ministry is all about these moments—of remembrance, celebration, regret, rejoicing. They are moments where, in some ways, you step out of time, or perhaps into the richness of God’s time which is timeless.

As I’ve been working on my sermon this morning, Sherod’s been watching John McCain’s funeral service. The volume is up high enough, and the words of the Episcopal Rite of Burial go so deep for me after these three years at Ascension, when I assisted or officiated at so many funerals, that even here in this quiet room, with sweet Tux resting next to me, I can recite along from memory, “You only are immortal, the creator and maker of [hu]mankind;  and we are mortal, formed of the earth, and to earth shall we return. For so did you ordain when you created me, saying, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.”  It is a strange and beautiful paradox that these words capture the glory of parish ministry as well.

The story that best captures the grace of this time is the story of one family, the Westons, who have kindly and ever so generously allowed me to tell their story on this page.  I remember Bill, and I remember Heather, from fairly early in my ministry as Associate Rector. In a church as big as Ascension, you first start getting to know faces as people come forward to receive communion.  I remember Bill and Heather kneeling at the rail, though I can’t say I remember them coming up together, though they probably did.  It is amazing when your regular encounters with people are about sharing communion, even if you know nothing about them. 

At some point in that first year, Heather friended me on Facebook.  Sometime in late 2015 or early 2016, I realized from her posts that Heather worked with an organization that cares for rescued dogs—and that she adores all kinds of fuzzy, furry children-friends who steal our hearts again and again.  Not too long after, there was a set of pictures, taken in front of, and inside of a small chapel, somewhere wooded and beautiful. It was how I learned that Heather and Bill had gotten married.  The pictures painted a picture of laughter and joy. It wasn’t too much longer after that when there was another picture on Facebook. This time it was of Bill and Heather with their dogs and a tiny pair of pink booties.  A baby was on her way and again, the joy.  So much happiness. So much anticipation. So much already knit together for the Westons, both as a couple, and as members of Ascension, to hold and cherish a new life.

At a staff meeting in  in December of 2016, I learned from Andy Thayer, then our rector, that with metal screeching and tearing and twisting, the Westons’ world had been turned inside out.  Heather was not yet 30 weeks pregnant when a car plowed into her car without ever using his brakes. She was injured, and her baby was in enough distress that she had to be delivered by C-Section.  No one thought that tiny baby girl would survive.  For days, Andy was on red alert, ready to baptize little Vera Jane. But he kept insisting that we should not rush to do that. If there was any way for her to be baptized in church in due time, when everything else about her birth had been so excruciating, it was worth the wait.  In parish ministry, those you minister with have so much to teach.

Vera Jane was in NICU for months on end. She had a serious brain bleed that caused extensive damage.  Andy was the Weston’s pastor and the rest of us prayed. We prayed so much. The women of the Prayers and Squares ministry at Ascension made her a little quilt and for two Sundays, it was out in the nave so all of us could stop and say a prayer, tie a knot in the yarn that binds the quilt together.  That quilt and those prayers still cover her today. Love bears fruit of all kinds and parishes are places where you get to see a myriad sacraments of love. 

 Heather and Bill shared pictures on Facebook all along the way so we had the gift of watching Vera take small steps forward, a fierce little fighter.  We saw the wonder and awe in her mom and dad’s faces, the unquestioning love that grows with a special needs child that teaches us that our definition of what it means to be a person is too often too narrow and too shallow and too limited.  Each cuddle and hug and holding of their little girl was pure gift and that was obvious to everyone.  As the mother of a special needs child, I also knew something about the fear.  The nights you lie awake and try to make sure you have thought of everything you need to do the next day, while wisps of fear slip through you from the dark and into the dark, fears about the care of such a vulnerable little one in a world growing so much tougher to navigate in.  Heather and Bill know the cost of love and they know they would gladly pay it tenfold in thanksgiving for their Vera.  Who teaches whom about holiness in a parish?

Not long after Andy left, Heather got in touch with me about baptizing Vera.  I was awed. I am still awed when I think about holding her in my arms and marking her forehead with a cross and saying, “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.”  Those words. The enormity of love they represent!  

With flu season, the Westons had to take extra precautions so Vera, with all her fragilities, didn’t get any virus or infection that could be life threatening.  They stopped going out much. A few days before Christmas, I drove to their new home in Wetumpka and brought communion.  Vera was sleepy and sassy and delicious and we got to talk for the first time about parenting vulnerable girls. Heather told me she’d just found out she was pregnant.  “For unto us a child is given” means something completely new for me now. And that day: the joy and love.

In early summer, another quick note from Heather and a phone conversation.  Little Vivie, due in the last part of July, would be born with Spina Bifida.  There was strength and clarity in Heather’s voice, no self pity, no drama, as she shared this news with me. She wanted me to know they were moving to Birmingham to be closer to the medical support both girls would need but she also wanted me to know she wanted Vivie baptized at Ascension.  And when that delicious girl was born on July 16th, there was jubilation and a few weeks later, relief, when the initial steps to begin addressing the issues with Spina Bifida went well.

At the same time, life was getting turned inside out, all over again.  Vera kept getting sicker and sicker with symptoms difficult to understand until an MRI showed that the brain injury caused by her original bleed was becoming more extensive, seriously affecting her brain stem, the part that regulates the most basic of our life-giving functions like body temperature and heart-rate.  The future is impossible to look into, a void where Bill and Heather, through tears, told me they trust they will find grace and God’s love. They think Vera held on far longer than she was expected to, so Vivie could be accompany her parents in the days and months and years that lie ahead. Bill and Heather have made excruciatingly hard decisions and are home with their little girls, taking each day as it comes.  

My time of walking with these beautiful people is coming to a close.  They need the support and care of a clergy person in Birmingham. I know a number of priests there and the one I would call if I found myself in such a time, has graciously begun visiting with the Westons and building a relationship with them. I am grateful.  Vivie will be baptized, though where and when is still something to decide in the future.  I trust Vivie’s baptism will be in a community, like Ascension, that will love and cherish this family, that the person welcoming her into the household of God will marvel at the miracle of this beautiful child.  The church is full of such clergy.

That there was a beginning and there will soon be an end to my time of being the Westons’ priest is both hard and wonderful.   We help each other along the way, as much as we can, for as long as we can.  We are woven together into the great cloud of saints and witnesses, and into each other’s lives, and the richness and grace of all the people who fill our lives are part of what makes it possible for us to say with certainty, “even at the grave, we make our song, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.” And for this priest looking back and looking forward, I am reminded that the Alleluias ring out both in the homecomings and the leave-takings. AMGD

Passage making

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My younger brother took the picture of this sailboat when my siblings and I spent two weeks with my dad on an island in the Stockholm archipelago a few years ago. The picture captures all the grace and beauty and marvel of a vessel under sail. I have been out sailing when wind conditions were like this and our good vessel Promise sliced effortlessly through the water; the blue of the Gulf Stream off Fort Lauderdale was infinitely indigo blue in the sun. It is glorious.

To get out to the big water from our home on a canal in SoFla, Sherod and I would steer Promise through the New River, an urban version of river, a version that is cornered and hemmed in by seawalls and criss-crossed with drawbridges. Often too, I’d sit in my car at stoplights on Davie, on Andrews Avenue, on 3rd Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, when a bridge went up to allow boats through. Because the river was so hemmed in and sailboats shared space with enormous yachts and power boats, they made their passage through with gallant awkwardness, bobbing and tilting, masts naked and exposed. Next to the shiny, sleek powerboats, sailboats looked nothing so much as well-intentioned tubs floating down river.

When Sherod and I would make that passage, there was always that small thread of anxiety that weaves its way through the body as you hope your muscle memory still works and your reflexes are sharp enough if a wake is unexpectedly strong or a current catches your bow just so. But it also didn’t matter a bit that we bobbed and weren’t as fast, or as big or as beautiful as others sharing the waterway with us. There was the thrill of anticipation that past Port Everglades, I’d steer into the wind, Sherod would raise the mainsail, give me a point of sail and fabric that had been flapping uselessly would begin to tighten and fill enough to cut the motor off and take flight.

Today, it is I who am a somewhat ungainly, but seaworthy vessel that has left port. When our previous rector left Ascension, I knew I would need to carry my work lightly, that a new rector might want someone else to work alongside him or her. Then I began to face into the reality of how I found myself being tugged and pulled by tides and wakes, and by the certainty that being at port no longer felt right. A few weeks ago the lines began to loosen. The rector of a parish in Montgomery that has seen its fair share of hardship and is in a neighborhood that was once upscale and is now a boulevard across from urban blight, announced his resignation. I made some inquiries about what would come next and realized I could and should ask to be considered when they started looking for an interim. I was told it would be a 1-year assignment, that normally the Bishop does not allow an interim to stay on as rector. It was scary to let go of Ascension for something that felt so fragile and temporary. But it also was wonderful letting go of some comfort in exchange for adventure.

Two weeks ago, I began a conversation with the leadership group assigned to fill the interim position. The conversation was lively. The tug was there, even stronger. A week ago Sunday we met, this time face to face. The conversation continued and ran long, still lively, still intriguing. I had made my peace with the fact that all I could expect to have was a year of interim work. Not a lot of time, but enough to start figuring the next step to take after that. As the second conversation wrapped up, a heart-stopping surprise: the Senior Warden had found out that there was an alternative to the route we were discussing. The discernment team could choose instead to go with a longer term assignment for someone to serve as priest-in-charge. Over an 18 month or so assignment they and the priest-in-charge would then decide whether or not to convert the position to a tenured rectorship. Somewhat awkwardly, we felt that possibility out with each other and I drove home trying to manage my sense of elation.

This past Sunday, the vestry at Holy Comforter met and unanimously agreed to call me as their priest-in-charge. Yesterday, the senior warden called to extend the call and I accepted. Announcements are going out. Calendars and schedules are being revised.

The passage has begun.

There are currents to navigate; some of them run swift. We are all moving in some pretty tight spaces, finding our way around each other, making sure not to leave anyone bobbing in an unnecessary wake. I am making my path out to the big waters. It’s not just that I feel awkward and and vulnerable, along with elated. It’s that I look ahead, beyond the passage out from this place I have made my church home for three years, and find myself repeating the Breton Fisherman’s Prayer over and over again: Oh God, thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small…