So often life can create for us a false sense of time. We are either caught up in life’s relentlessness where years and decades slip by unnoticed; or stuck in a sense of motionlessness, where it seems times moves not at all, and each day is the same. Especially with the short attention span of our news cycle, and our quick desire to package up and make meaning of things that have only just happened, our sense of time can get - to use a technical term - “out of whack.”
Church can be a place where we can correct these things, a place where we mark time. A place where we honor the small and big transitions of our days,and all the changes we each face - individually, and as a society. And it can be a place where we slow ourselves down to feel, to really feel the seconds, the minutes, and all the breaths that make up a life.
If our congregation were to be a place that helped you mark time, what things in your life would you want to honor? Where would you hope to slow down and recognize the passing of time? What help would you need to see the ways change has occurred? How can this community be a place where we allow life its fullness and its mystery, its glacial pace and its fury, and hold all these things in view, all at once?
As we move into February, I am marking my own kind of time with this church community - as of the end of January I will have been with you for six months, having begun at the first of August. There will be those who will read this and swear it has been longer, and those who will respond in disbelief that so much time could not have yet passed. I agree with all of you.
I remember leaving the interview with the Search Committee last spring as if it was yesterday. These months later I still feel this overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude I left the interview with - and an indescribable feeling that everything is as it should be. A sense of faith, and trust, and love. I had a colleague recently tell me that she was sure I was coming to the end of my “honeymoon phase,” which you might easily surmise is that period when a minister is new to a congregation where neither the congregation nor the minister sees -or is willing to see - anything but the good in the other. The honeymoon ends eventually, of course, and our mutual humanity is more fully revealed, and then we figure out how life will really be together.
When my partner and I were first dating I used to tell people that we had been together longer than we had been. I felt so clear that we were meant for the long term, I didn’t want anyone to be able to dismiss our commitment or our seriousness in our “honeymoon” stage. Nearly fourteen years into our relationship together, I realize now how quickly that early time goes by, and how important its easy joy is to fuel the real work of sustaining a life-giving relationship over the long run. And I realize that each stage of relationship offers its own gifts, and with intention, the clarity and joy that made you say that initial “yes” is accessible all the time, even many years later.
These first six months have been such a pleasure - every day brings giggles and poetry, philosophical discussions and groan-worthy jokes - and that’s just my meetings with Marc! I don’t know if the “honeymoon” yet has passed for us, just six months in. I’d guess not. But really, I am not sure it matters. In our lives, we never know what the passing of time will bring. My spiritual practice is to live with gratitude for this moment as it is. And it is such a great moment.
For all of you, for our exceptional staff team, for Marc, for all those who laid the groundwork that brought us to this moment,for this great partnership we are discovering and creating together, and for all that we are yet to be and do, I could not be more grateful.