I emailed my friend, Jay Anthony, who was Senior Warden of St. John's for some years when I was there, asking him to listen to the download of my son-in-law, Tim Mccarthy's songs (that 'son-in-law' part is still new, Mimi and Tim have only been married a month). Jay, always the 'deal maker' emailed back that he would if I would come to a fund-raiser he was involved with. The information he sent me was that it was a wind tasting and would be held at a Greek Orthodox Church in Waterbury today.
So, I agreed, not having any idea what the fund-raiser was for, assuming it was for the Orthodox Church.
So, I went.
At the door I met Monica and Karyn and Stacy, three members of St. John's in Waterbury.
From then all, it was all a haze of old friends. Jay hadn't told me the fund raiser was for Church Street Ministries--all associated with St. John's...a community children's choir, a Saturday tutoring program, a computer club, an after-school program.
I saw people I hadn't seen since April of 2010, when I retired.
In the Episcopal Church there is an annoying expectation that retired priests 'stay away' from the parish they served (in my case for 21 years!) after they leave. This expectation is only one more way that the church underestimates lay folks. The 'church' assumes lay folks can't distinguish between their 'priest' and their 'friend'. That is frankly, bull-poop!
None of the folks I saw today thought I was their 'priest' anymore. They know better. But they greeted me with hugs and kisses as their 'friend' of a couple of decades.
I did better than most people thought I would about 'being absent' from St. John's after I retired.
I went back to do a couple of funerals, (one for a dog!) invited by the interim rectors. But, for the most part, I stayed away and didn't even go to any of the Waterbury haunts that had been a part of my life for 21 years.
I regret how good I was at obeying expectations after today. All those dozens of people I haven't seen for years could have been friends of mine for those years and never mistaken me as their 'priest'.
Then, there is the conversation in the Episcopal Church about whether a priest should even be 'friends' with the members of the parish he/she serves....Don't get me started on how stupid that all is, okay?
What a joy Jay gave me. All those hugs and kisses and conversations kept me from tasting any wine at all! But that's alright. I drank deep from the glass of friendship. That was more than enough.
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- Enough dressing already....
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- What you don't know (part II)
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