Thursday, February 18, 2010

serious thoughts

I've been thinking about things lately--things I've never had to think about before--things about packing up and leaving...painful thoughts and very serious.

Yesterday was my last Ash Wednesday at St. John' some point I decided Ash Wed was so important that we should make it easier and easier to take part. So, we started out by having 3 full services: 8am, noon and 7:30 pm. Then, every half hour we'd have someone in the chapel to 'impose' ashes and give communion from the reserve sacrament. That sort of broke down until now we simply have someone in the chapel in a cassock all day long. It's 'all ashes all day' at St. John's.

Over the years that has worked and worked and continues to work. Though we had a normal noon crowd and a far above normal 7:30 crowd, there were more people who just drifted in and through than the total of the 3 services. Whole families come. The youth group came. People from the Soup Kitchen--volunteers and guests--came. People I never dreamed would come, came. People who saw the sign outside the front door dropped in. It is truly exciting, the way we do Ash Wednesday. I have dozens of stories. Maybe I'll tell them in another form when I get around to writing stuff down about my experience as a priest. I'll try to remember to do that. But for now, there is this: it is wonderful and exciting and the height and depth of 'inclusion', the way we do Ash Wednesday.

I'm really going to miss that.

Then I was thinking about dis-embedding the vestments that belong to me from the vestments that belong to the parish. That might take a whole day, someday soon. And packing up the pictures I have at the parish and my other stuff and 'moving out'. What a nightmare. Why did I decide to do this anyway...?

But dis-embedding my stuff from that place will be nothing compared to un-enmeshing myself, my heart and mind and soul, from that place and from, most of all, those people.

We had a staff member once who talked about how 'enmeshed' the parish was. I don't think that person meant it as a compliment. It was a criticism of how people become so involved in each other's lives that they begin to define themselves as a 'group' and not as strictly 'individuals'.

I could write a great deal about this theory--and will someday--but the truth is, I never saw that as a negative thing. We are, after all, 'the Body' of Christ....and though the eye has its job and the hand its job, they work as one, enmeshed, as it were.

So, that is my job these days--to appreciate the connections that hold me at St. John's and begin the painful process of cutting them away so I can walk away. A friend who reads my blog told me I was much more emotional here, in writing, than I seemed as I went through my life and connections and work day by day. And that is so. This is the work I need to do--I don't need to impose it on is my work. And it is painful and fraught with loss. Yet, I shall do it...and in my day to day work I will seek to free people from the mesh that holds us now, so they can walk on when I walk away.

It is difficult and trying. And it must be done. And I will do it.

Above all things but one, I want to walk away free to face the possibilities of the future. The only thing I want more is to allow St. John's to be free of me as well.....That will be a 'completion' and we can all move on with a light step to what God has in mind for us next....

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.