Yesterday was Deacon's one year anniversary of being our dog. And a few days before that, though I was back east, the one year mark of my time at church came and went.
I haven't had a lot of time to reflect. Though I shall continue to abide by my self-imposed commandment Thou Shalt Not Blog About Thy Congregation, I will say that I am in the midst of planning a wedding and a memorial, both of which are firsts for me. Carly asked me what it's like to be such a part of peoples' lives. I am humbled and honored. The weight of these events threatens to elevate my natural tendency toward perfectionism to a new neurotic high. This is the heart of what it means to be human: life and love, death and loss. I want to do things right. But the weight also reminds me that my role isn't to discern precisely what to say and how to say it - I am to bear witness to the presence of God in all moments - joyous, mournful, quotidian.
And so the cardinal reflection about Year One is this: it is altogether too easy to lose sight of that. My countless to-do lists and the twelve months of my day planner are full of responsibilities that can feel as disconnected as a landscape without rivers. I don't know how to remedy this. I believe it is a matter of embodying the commitments I made at my ordination, not only in form but in spirit. It is a matter of training my eyes to recognize the sacred and my lungs (congested as they are) to trust that the Holy Spirit inhabits every inhalation.
This does not come naturally. Faithfulness has always been a struggle for me, so persistent are my tendencies toward secularism and skepticism. I spent college assuming that things would start to happen in seminary, and seminary assuming that pastoral ministry would finally stir my latent spirituality. I learned how to be faithful despite my lack of faith, all the while hoping for an epiphany.
But epiphanies don't sustain the weight of life and death. They may proffer a hearty boost to one's spiritual reserves, but everyone knows you have to leave church camp at the end of the week and go back to the humdrum world. I lack as a pastor what I have always lacked: a daily practice of prayer, that unepiphanic catalyst for nearly everything that happens between God and God's beloved children.
And yet, as I write, I get lost in the feeling I always get when messing around with words. It's a mix of peace and exhilaration, and it is part of why I'm still here, why I still trust that I have been called. The grace of words, from the Word made flesh. Thanks be to God.