I met the search committee from the Church of the Redeemer in the winter of 2015, a group of pilgrims arriving in Cold Spring Harbor on a wet and cold weekend. In a matter of hours, something surprising had sparked between us—laughter, vulnerability, a warmth that belied the weather. And now eight years of loving you stretch between that moment and today.
I’m struck by all that you’ve helped to make happen—alliances across Baltimore begun and strengthened through BUILD, houses restored with Habitat for Humanity, GEDCO moving back to York Road, Govans School now in a 21st century building, ReBuild Johnston Square offering safe, affordable housing, revitalized parks, and a model for sustainable growth… life-giving Bible studies, mid-week services, the choir school of Baltimore, worship that nourishes the eye, the ear, the heart, the soul… 125 people trained in anti-racism, regular meetings of contemplative prayer, yoga Church offered monthly… the Parish Day School growing to 3rd grade…
We have weathered a pandemic together, discovering how to gather virtually, adding live-stream capabilities that widen our weekly worship, and outfitting meeting spaces so that participants can join us from across the country. We are welcoming newcomers every week, and also studying our history to more ably engage today’s seekers. And through it all, our loved ones have been born and baptized, confirmed and married, and some have suffered and passed away. In nearly a decade of tumultuous change, Redeemer has been steady, strengthened by the opportunities to know Baltimore and ourselves more intimately, serve more consistently, and love more deeply.
Sabbath: “The room is quiet. You’re not feeling tired enough to sleep or energetic enough to go out. For the moment there is nowhere else you’d rather go, no one else you’d rather be. You feel at home in your body. You feel at peace in your mind. For no particular reason, you let the palms of your hands come together and close your eyes. Sometimes it is only when you happen to taste a crumb of it that you dimly realize what it is that you’re so hungry for you can hardly bear it.” (Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking)
Now I am planning a sabbatical, which will begin in October and stretch through January 2024. My plans are still in formation, but some organizing decisions have been made. Cristina will act as priest in charge in my absence, facilitating staff and vestry meetings. Plans for Parish Day School growth and financial development for any new building projects are underway now. The program year will be planned in June. I will lead the staff/vestry/history committee retreat right before I begin my time away.
I won’t pack my bags for nine months! But, in time I hope to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain, perhaps on a route from Portugal or Seville. I hope to travel to England for the first time, discovering a part of London where my long-lost Baltimore ancestor got himself into trouble and launched his “transportation” to Maryland. I hope to settle more deeply into our new house on Mount Royal Terrace in Reservoir Hill. And I especially hope to celebrate Christmas and the weeks around it with my family in a way we haven’t in over 30 years, discovering again the quiet moments of winter and the gift of sitting in the pew together.
Through the miracle of technology, I will carry a prayer book and the church directory on my phone, so you will never be far from me on my pilgrimage. Buon camino, is how travelers greet each other in Spain. I will see you on the way.