Monday, 13 November 2017
The Rectory in Winchester
Dearest Sisters and Brothers,
The travel home from Malta last Thursday was seamless and pleasantly unwearying. It felt very good to land at Logan, and to walk through these doors to see Tom (Esther too). Those feelings led me to think about how good it will be to walk through the doors of our church, and to see all of you.
There’s a ton to share with you about my time in Malta. It was at once exactly what I expected, and entirely surprising—some of which I welcomed and some of which unsettled me. I arrived the day after a car bomb killed the country’s most controversial journalist. Turns out the topography isn’t the only aspect of Malta’s landscape that’s a rocky. Then, there was the church, which I experienced as very English, and what I mean is that their colonial history, and what seemed a prevailing expat mindset which disregarded the Maltese people, convicted me of my unending work to live for gospel-based reconciliation, and to cultivate relationships from an open heart. Still, Malta had its charms and adventures, the people were filled with a hospitable spirit, and I delved deeply into the rich religious and cultural history.
My original sabbatical plan included leaving today for a three day continuing education conference in North Carolina, called Gathering of Leaders. Unfortunately the event was cancelled because of transition in the organization’s leadership. This is mildly disappointing because before I left for sabbatical the staff’s and vestry’s discussions on evangelism and welcoming were based upon tools gleaned from Gathering of Leaders. I was ready to continue the connection. A silver lining is that I can incorporate the fruits of the sabbatical into daily home life, particularly the meditation and quiet, and also take a longer silent retreat at the monastery in Cambridge.
A priest in the Diocese of Massachusetts wrote to me last week. She herself finished a sabbatical a couple of years ago, and she was writing to welcome me back, give me news from diocesan convention, and to offer counsel about re-entry. In part what I heard was, “make the last part of the sabbatical count. Your congregation needs this from you, as much as you do.” And so I shall.
I know completely that Christ dwells richly among you; I wait eagerly to experience once again in all of you his peace and joy.
All of this comes with my respect and love, and my constant prayers for the people of God called to be the Parish of the Epiphany.