“Let gratitude be the pillow on which you kneel to say your daily prayers.”

That quote from Maya Angelou arrived in my email early Sunday morning before I came to church. It struck me as a powerful reflection of what I was feeling in those early hours and it seems appropriate this morning as I write my final E-Redeemer. I am not sure I have the ‘bandwidth” or language skills to express how very, very grateful I am to this community. For the last couple of weeks I have been overwhelmed by your notes, gifts and expressions of appreciation for my ministry at Redeemer. The reality is I have had to put them aside until I have the emotional space and spiritual quiet to ‘hear and honor’ your thoughts. I now know what is meant by the expression: “The gift that keeps on giving.”

The experience of Sunday was one I probably will never be able to fully absorb. I kept thinking, stay in the moment, be attentive, don’t lose focus. But even those mental reminders were not enough. The hugs and tributes and gifts seemed to be endless. So much has congealed into a state of love and kindness which marinates my soul. There are many I wish to thank:

Those who represented the Women Who Wonder, the Knitting Ministry, Pastoral Care Team Ministry, Sacred Space for Grace and the Altar Guild offering such kind remarks and tokens of appreciation.

Molly Hathaway, Brandon Berkeley and Townsend Kent for all the festivities in the parish hall. Oh my….balloons and ferns and flowers along with the absolutely adorable beaver with a customized clergy outfit that greeted the parish on the way into church.

Ellen Chatard for working with Carol Williams, the caterer, to provide a gourmet “coffee hour”. Crab, salmon, ham biscuits, chicken salad, tenderloin, stuffed eggs, meatballs, veggies, cheese were part of the abundance….and of course, diet coke was the beverage of choice for the day!

Bert Landman and his fabulous choir who endorsed my choices of music along with adding some beautiful selections of their own. I was particularly moved when we all sang the final hymn: “Now Thank We All Our God”. That felt so uniting for our community as we ended an emotional worship experience.

The Rev. Joe Hart and The Rev. Joanna Tetrault, clergy colleagues who joined us at the altar. Joe is Director of Spiritual Support at GBMC and served as my first supervisor when I interned with him in 2001 as a student in the Pastoral Counseling Program at Loyola. Since that initial meeting our relationship has expanded and grown and he continues to be a friend and mentor. How wonderful to have Joanne as well. It has been my privilege to be alongside her journey into ordained ministry!

Barbara Hart, who well, she just keeps me on track for everything…. lost glasses, forgotten appointments, pastoral reminders, funeral bulletins, etc., etc. so I just know she was running around making sure everything was in place and filling in holes of what may be needed at the time.

Mark, Vu, and Chuan who are unceasingly cheerful setting up and moving and cleaning. No doubt they were busy, busy, busy with all the activities for the reception, both before and after.

Cristina and David who were scheming all kinds of surprises leading up to Sunday. Oh my, songs and poems and hugs and love. At the foundation of our relationship is “Nothing can separate us from the love of God” and it is within that foundation that we laugh a lot with one another along with serve the parish faithfully. What exists between us will never be lost….you do not ever lose that which is sacred.

And I have saved the best for last! I have just been told that the purse in my honor which will go to Paul’s Place is at $20,000 and growing. Oh my, oh my, oh my!!! Extraordinary!!!

So dear, dear, dear Redeemer….we have been on Holy Ground for 9 years….that will be the place for the pillow on which I  shall kneel to offer my prayerful gratitude. I cherish you.