Letter from Pastor/Head of Staff
When each New Year dawns, we find ourselves looking back over the past year, reflecting on the many changes, challenges, joys, and celebrations we experienced. I am often overwhelmed by how long ago the previous January seems to have been. So much happens over the course of a year. Several major things happened in my life, including cancer diagnoses with many dear friends, and, of course, the death of my mother-in-law in May. These things have altered my life in ways that I am only beginning to understand. You, too, have your own list of life events, and the griefs and sorrows we have had have also been scattered with joys and celebrations – the birth of a new baby, a graduation, a long-awaited trip, vacation/holiday time with family, weddings, anniversaries, and other celebrations. Life is a journey that includes rough and smooth roads, stormy and pleasant weather, unexpected detours, and delightful surprises. We do not know what the journey ahead looks like, but we can learn and grow from the journey we have experienced thus far. When we look back, though, I hope we can see the signs of God’s presence with us along the way – the light and love of family and friends, caregivers and strangers that warmed and comforted us, the courage and strength that we felt at unexpected times, the gratitude that comes to rest in our hearts when we see signs of God in nature, in worship, in song, in the other. When you look back on this year, may your tears be mingled with laughter, your sorrow be mingled with joy, your anxiety be strengthened by courage for the journey forward. You are not alone. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.
For this Epiphany season, I leave with you this poem by Jan Richardson (H/T Kathy Parkins). May you find strength for the journey, friends.
For Those Who Have Far to Travel:
An Epiphany Blessing
If you could see the journey whole
you might never undertake it;
might never dare the first step
that propels you
from the place you have known
toward the place you know not.
Call it one of the mercies of the road:
that we see it only by stages
as it opens before us,
as it comes into our keeping
step by single step.
There is nothing for it
but to go and by our going
take the vows the pilgrim takes:
to be faithful to the next step;
to rely on more than the map;
to heed the signposts
of intuition and dream;
to follow the star that only you will recognize;
to keep an open eye for the wonders
that attend the path;
to press on beyond distractions
beyond what would tempt you from the way.
There are vows that only you will know;
the secret promises for your particular path
and the new ones you will need to make
when the road is revealed
by turns you could not have foreseen.
Keep them, break them, make them again:
each promise becomes part of the path;
each choice creates the road
that will take you to the place
where at last you will kneel
to offer the gift most needed—
the gift that only you can give—
before turning to go home
by another way.