Monday, June 24, 2013


I filled in yesterday morning for a clergy colleague who decided to take an impromptu trip out of town over the weekend. In the pocket of time between rolling out of bed and leaving for church I ran through a mental checklist of the things I needed to load into the car: alb, prayer book, did I need to take a stole? I would probably just wear the church's stole and chasuble. I found myself tucking into the folds of that thought with warm pleasure, which inspired a random thought.

Have you ever done the exercise that asks the question, "if your house were burning and you had time to collect three things to take with you, what would you save?" The question hasn't been far from my thoughts as I listen to the stories of people being hastened from their homes with wildfires lapping up the ground approaching their abodes in Colorado. In spite of this, I haven't taken the time to think about my own answer, or at least one answer, until I experienced the satisfying thought of donning the chasuble. I made the chasuble with which I was clothed when I was ordained priest, so I own a chasuble and matching stole. That chasuble is one of the things I would save.

In spite of my vocational struggles and the scars I bear from my tenure serving missions and parishes of the Church, I am still a priest, through and through. The liturgical joy of priesthood was affirmed yesterday as I processed into the church, singing an ancient hymn and taking my place in the chancel to lead the congregation in worship. It was an hour of joy and contentment, filled with hearts and souls hungry to be nourished with the body and blood of Jesus, and sprinkled with wide-eyed children whose hands stretched over the altar rail to receive their portion with smiles that they couldn't hide. I coveted especially the two-year old, who, rather than shake hands at the Peace, offered his fingers curled for a fist bump, and to whom I offered mine during communion along with the blessing I spoke as I made the sign of the cross on his forehead. Any niggling wonder about whether it might be God's desire for me to pack my stoles and put them into storage was effectively quieted. 

The experience of the morning--which included multiple conversations about the sermon--was a reminder that I still have a voice to proclaim the Word and bear witness to the power of the Spirit. It remains to be seen how that voice will be used and what path lies ahead for that purpose, but I have peace and confidence that a way will open and make itself known. In a way, the affirmation of the morning served to loose the bonds that have clung to my soul like the tattered fringe of pain. The gift of healing seals a portion of the past and allows me to move forward with a necessary lightness. Amen to that.

I'm still considering the other two things I would save. Photographs are always a prominent candidate for selection. Thank goodness many are now stored online and spared the potential fate of destruction by fire. There is the painting done by my grandmother of one of the views at Melrose. There is the pastel drawing of one of my dogs that my mother commissioned. A silk-screened celtic design bought at the gift shop of Dunvegan Castle when I toured my beloved Scotland to dance, a reminder of that trip of a lifetime. The icons I wrote. Interesting that these are all works of art...

I am grateful this morning for the opportunity this blog offers to record the reflections of yesterday. Such thoughts so often dissipate into the vapor of the day and merge with countless other moments that become lost in the abyss of memory.

Today marks 18 years of priesthood for me. I am grateful for the affirmation that I followed a path that, despite the slings and arrows suffered along it, has been right. For all the pain and agony along the way there are countless blessings that I cherish and hold deeply in my heart, and in my bones. As the good book says (thank you, Tevye), I am a priest forever (Ps 110:4).

Mazel Tov.


The Bug said...

That sounds like a great day - I'm so glad you had a good experience!

I guess I would grab my computer hard drive (not everything is in the cloud!), our wedding album, and Mike - ha! Assuming he can take care of his own self I would get his grandmother's quilt. Hmm - maybe I should put it where I can find it!

Terri said...

I have lived that very same Sunday and know exactly how you's why I pursued a call to yet another parish even though I truly wondered if that was the best thing for me to do...and in this case, it has so far turned out to be exactly what I needed to do....of course, if you read my blog post today, you will remember that it took me 18 months of diligent searching to get here...still holding you close to my heart and prayer...

Carolina Linthead said...

Beautiful post! So glad you had this day. Here's to more of them in your future!

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