Saturday, April 21, 2007

Some ruminations on stress and change

This has been a tumultuous couple of weeks. Looking back, I realize I haven't posted since Holy Week concluded.

It was a glorious Easter. We had a great celebration, with beautiful flowers, fantastic music, tons of people and-oddly-snow.

Reminded of another time last year, I preached on the experience of new life in the face of death that a parishioner and I shared as she was preparing for death. Terminal with cancer, she was a woman who loved nature, flowers and the gift of the changing seasons. Imagine her sadness to know that even though she was being given the gift of another spring...that she would never see winter again.

Well, God seemingly obliged her last year...because on a fluke day last spring, as the forsythia and daffodils were blooming...we had snow. Much like Easter Sunday this year. Glorious. Seeing it all in one beautiful day. Made me appreciate, remember and give thanks for the supreme gift of life in the midst of death...of resurrection popping up even as the chill of the grave embraces us.

That image was important, in that we lost an icon of the parish not long after Easter. Barbara Ingerman, longtime parishioner and benefactor of the parish passed away after a long illness. That sounds so trite, but it is true. She had a series of strokes that robbed her physical body of its animation and energy...and it took her mind and her soul some time to catch up. Laying down that struggle, she was able to simply step off the ride and enter the enfolding embrace of the God who loves us all into life and beyond. Grace itself.

But her interment was one of the coldest, wettest and soppiest I have experienced in my priesthood.

It was right after the storms of the past week, that nor'easter that we all dreaded, gave up the ghost that we all headed down to the mainline to lay her to rest with her family in Bryn Mawr. It was so sodden, the ground was, that I could actually see the graveside bowing in from the weight of water, clay and earth.

The week then wore on...we had interviews these past few days for the new clergy associate position. Four candidates, down from around fifteen. Hopefully down to a finalist or two in the next couple of days.

It would have been a great day today, but for the fact that I was involved in an accident on River Road while attempting to show the early morning candidate the area. Trying to make a left hand turn on a relatively blind curve, a woman came up the hill at a pretty fact clip and caught us good on the front end of the car. Aside from a bang on the head for me, no one was hurt. I have taken harder hits in the dojo...but I must admit my pride and peace of mind are pretty busted up. Not as bad as my car, but it feels close.

I give thanks to God that no one was hurt...and again thanks to God for the gifts of the candidates and their grace in working through the day with the advisory committee. Everyone is being so supportive. I just have to learn to lean back a little and enjoy the experience a bit more.

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