Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016...What a Wild Ride!

When I think back to 2016, I am surprised by the tears that fill my eyes. How does one sum up a year of so many emotions, changes, challenges, and new possibilities? How does one heart hold the prayers, hopes and love of so many? How can the mind comprehend the tectonic shifts that have occurred, both within one’s own life, the church and the world?

2016 began with my dad’s death. His health declined sharply at the end of 2015 and with the new year, he decided enough was enough. He died the way he lived: totally on his own terms. My relationship with Daddy was complicated, yet I am so aware of the gifts he imparted to me—my love of the outdoors, a mind that constantly questions, and a voracious appetite for reading and learning. Perhaps the greatest gift he gave was in his dying: it drew my sisters and brothers together in a deeper way than ever before. Divided by age (there is a nearly 30 year difference between me and the youngest), different mothers, and different upbringings, we found ourselves learning more about one another and delighting in our commonalities more than ever before.

I had a crisis of faith in the late winter-early spring. I have always been acutely aware of God’s presence and claim on my life. But suddenly, I felt adrift: where was God, and what did God want of my life? I began to hear that still, small voice, and began to follow, but WHOA! Was not expecting to be led THERE! On June 10, when Robin and I discerned together that yes, perhaps God was calling me to the episcopacy, the Holy Spirit burst in our lives in such a profound way and took over. The rest is, as they say, history.

My election meant a very fast transition, saying good-bye to a city that I have called home for 27 years. So many lessons learned there, friendships made, and experiences that have shaped me as a person and a pastor. These past 8 years, in particular, have been filled with so many lessons that have already served me well in my new ministry. The Glide community, so diverse, loving, and hopeful, have taught me so much. Folks invited me to share life with them, and opened my eyes and heart to worlds I would otherwise know nothing about. Daily, I had to confront my privilege. God kept showing up in the margins, and I learned more faith lessons there than in any seminary classroom.

Saying good-bye was hard, and filled our hearts with grief yet again. But it wasn’t the last time. Within days of moving to Colorado, Robin’s mother died unexpectedly. And then her dad had surgery followed by a small stroke. Yet, God kept showing up in the midst of it, surrounding us with a new community that spanned more than four states in the Mountain Sky Area. Robin and I regularly asked ourselves, “How did we fall in love so hard and fast with these people?”

2016…what a wild ride! Yet, through it all, I have only two words: “Thank you.”