Usually, the Rector’s Annual Report, gives you a laundry list of the various things that have happened in the past year. A litany of ministries that were accomplished, how many folks came to worship, how many baptisms, funerals and weddings, as well as our successes and challenges. This year, however, I am taking a bit of a different tact considering that 2015 was a difficult and stressful year for Jane and me. As many of you are aware, this past June while out cycling, I was struck by an opened car door. This resulted in my being hospitalized for a fractured right hip that needed to be surgically repaired. Now I live with titanium rods, what my surgeon quaintly calls, “titanium nails”, with one screwed into the hip and another that runs down my femur and is pinned just above the knee. These rods have stabilized my hip and enabled the broken bone to begin healing, yet the process is slow. From the time of the accident in June until September, I worked with doctors and Physical Therapists, to regain my strength so that I could resume life as normal as possible. Four weeks after the accident I returned to Trinity in a much reduced capacity, being unable to drive but able enough to be present on Sunday mornings. With the help of Sheila, our secretary, I was able to get into the office on weekdays as I tried to get back as much into a regular routine as possible.
This time of recovery and recuperation gave me the gift of needing to slow down and reflect on my life and ministry among you. Laying in bed with only my memories to look back upon, hopes and dreams as yet unfulfilled, floating across the landscape of my mind. There were the times of melancholy, those remembrances of broken relationships and broken dreams that rest heavy on my heart. Yet, in spite of those darker moments, I experienced the light that broke through this darkening in the great love of those around me. Jane has been and will always be my rock, she helped me through those difficult first days at home while still having to go in to work herself. It wasn’t easy, there were no quick fixes, we had to bear through this with patience, laughter and above all love. The many cards and expressions of care I received were greatly appreciated as were the host of calls and gifts of food. I also appreciated greatly the care shown by our Bishop’s, Alan and Gayle, who both responded in praying for and helping our community during that time. My words of thanks are not eloquent enough to truly express my deepest feelings but I am truly grateful for our Church and this community.
As we enter into 2016, I look forward to deepening our relationships and working toward building up our community. We have seen our parish slowly shrink in the past few years, people are ever busy, weekends are for various other activities or just lounging lazily after a hectic week of work and taking kids from one event to the other. We are being called into a new way of thinking and doing “Church.” No longer do the old models fit, the Church no longer occupies a lofty position in our society and culture and so we, disciples in this new age, are being tasked with finding out who we are and where we are being called to minister.
While some may despair, wring their hands and bemoan the loss of the “good old days”, I believe we have a unique opportunity to deepen our faith and to truly be a light that shines brightly. The first verse of Mary Oliver’s poem, Wild Geese, a poem filled with optimism and hope for ourselves and our future, reminds us of that mystery we call grace.
“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.”
We come to God in faith, just as we are, filled with questions, doubts and fears, and are loved unconditionally. Within the quiet spaces of our souls we hear the still, small voice that beckons us into those deeper places of the heart. In those quiet moments during my convalescence, as I watched the first light of dawn begin to creep through my bedroom window, I knew that the love surrounding me would begin to heal both the physical and emotional wounds. I believe that our community, even in the midst of these trying and confusing times, will be lifted up by God’s most gracious love.