This Week at Trinity, Beamsville
Friday, October 23, 2020
This week I’ve been remarkably, perhaps all too poignantly, aware of the passage of time. Some moments have felt far more like the pressure cooker of time. Like all of you, I’m feeling pulled in so many directions, all at once. Even with the life limits that change where I can go and how I can move, physically, my head and heart are still in a perpetual, often ungraceful dance. I pivot and sway to a beat beyond my choosing, trying to stay upright, and even the tiniest bit balanced.
What’s causing such a state, you might ask? Nothing you haven’t heard before, I’m sure, although I can’t put it all down to the pandemic. Of course, from the congregational files, I’m in a constant wondering about meeting needs, knowing needs, and missing needs. I’m in an equally constant state of gratitude for the leadership and laity of this church family, who hold this uncertainty all together, and persist through each new challenge, with mercy and understanding.
For our immediate and extended family, I am equally grateful for their examples of strength and faith. Among the many strains on our hearts, many of you know that my father-in-law, my beloved second father, is in treatment for cancer, with a very heavy prognosis. My prayers for time have never been more earnest – including the time that he, and we, might have with my sister-in-law from Ohio. With Joe’s 83rd birthday just two and a half weeks away, that prayer for reuniting has been answered in part, with Jolene’s successful return to Canada and quarantine underway at day 2. We wait for time to pass in a different way now.
In the midst of the long list of preoccupations, I’m certain that I’ve lost part of myself along the way. The more honest assessment is that I’ve lost sight of myself, too often. I’m lost in thought, I’m lost in hypotheticals and scenarios I can’t predict or control. Sometimes I’m lost in wonder and joy, at how God still knits me all together. Sometimes I’m lost in tears, when the most unexpected song triggers a tiny flood.
I was most definitely lost in thought early this morning, when I was moving back and forth, up and down the church’s back door ramp. Taking advantage of the unexpectedly kind weather, today was the day to load up the small greenhouse of plants I keep here, now coming home with me for these next three months. I don’t know how many trips I’d made in and out when I finally caught sight of a little face at the manse’s northeast window. He and I have met before, just once or twice, but only in this pandemic time, and always from a distance, outside. Today, little Ethan caught me in my travels – and more importantly, he caught me in a moment I needed so much. He offered me a persistent and hearty morning wave, and the most charming smile. That was it. That was all. That was everything, and perfection. Because… in order for me to wave back, I had to stop and put down my load. I had to pause and smile with all I had, so he would know, through that pane of glass, that he had been seen; and that he had just put all things right in my heart, for even that moment. Had he not stopped me, would I have noticed the bees swarming in delight at the late fall bloom of Montauk daisies? Had he not stopped me, would I have been flooded with joyful memories of our Eric at that age, waving from our Clare Avenue window to all who drove by? Had he not stopped me, would I have been challenged to remember God’s reminder, to make time for what and whom matters most? Maybe. Maybe not. It matters not, because it all happened as it did.
The time that I am about to take, on Sabbatical, away from the people and place I love so much, will not be an easy adjustment. Clichéd as it is, I’m certain that I miss you already. I know you are in such good hands, with Judy and Kass, and all the Staff team, but I miss you already. I vacillate between wanting all that is good to remain static while I’m gone, even as I know that they can’t; and praying for all that is hard to be wholly better when I return, even as I know it won’t be that simple.
So many times, I ask myself if this is the right time for this internal pilgrimage. I have to trust that it is. I find peace in the trust that I will learn and grow, in ways I can’t anticipate, for this time and long after. I’ll talk more about that on Sunday, and pray that you will join me there – not for a statement of defense, but a time of invitation. This last sermon before I take some silent time will be a chance to think out loud, with you; to pray and discern, with you; and to step out courageously into whatever this next time will bring, with you.
Whatever comes, whomever comes in to your path and your heart this next stretch of time, may you know and trust that God is speaking in the seemingly tiny moments of your day. With Jesus’ example to guide and sustain you, may you rest in the Sabbath practice that begins in God calling you home. May you know the precious gift you are to this community, and above all, always, to our beloved, most faithful Creator.
And so, dear friends, for these next three months, and ever after:
Deep peace of the running waves to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.
With love to you all,
“Pilgrimage is usually defined as a physical journey to a sacred place and/or a spiritual journey in which the pilgrim is changed in some way.
…Pilgrims often undergo a transformation that provides them with new insights and the strength to redefine their sense of self, their connection to the community
and world, and their relationship to others and to God.”
(Debbie Marshall, “Pilgrimages of the Heart” in ‘Mandate’, February 2015)