Last week, I named the three ways that re-entry into the life of a parish after a sabbatical can be characterized. In short they are: "hit the ground running," "honor what has passed," "accept what's new and emerging."
Each one of these responses have a particular action that in one way or another embraces the new reality. Whether in seizing the moment, or laying to rest, or announcing the birth, each action institutionalizes the reality and identifies each party's role.
My return -- made unique by the unfortunate events of September 1 -- elicited another set of actions that qualify for the title, "Embraces." So many people that I cannot count helped with my getting situated in Madison and perhaps even more importantly out of Athens.
From the crew that ripped up carpet, began emptying a garage, repaired a fence, trimmed and edged, swept and mopped to those who saw to the repair of the heat pump and moving of a piano and more; each was an embrace. And I best not forget the casseroles!
I am humbled by how much was done and how much love came along with the doing. Humbled.
I am also awakened to a greater truth about our lives together, especially our lives from this point forward. Our embrace of each other has more to it that an expression of deep and soaring gratitude that I'm back, that my sabbatical goals were met, and especially that my life was spared. It has in it the rest of each and all of our individual lives.
That is, we have embraced a future with each other. Especially in how my leaving Athens has been incorporated in the process I see us together saying Madison is the address for our future. Especially as several parishioners have offered housing options for me to consider. Especially as I am being asked to consider participation in community fund-raising events.
Yes, I've agreed to try my hands (and feet) at the Boy's and Girl's Club's "Dancing with the Stars." At this point I think prayers are more important than donations.
But more importantly I want to say how much I intend to embrace a life with Advent in Madison that has No More burning a candle "at both ends."
I have done what I had hoped and let go of several encumbrances through my time away. Now I hope to take hold and sustain my embrace of this new life with you.
This trimmed down, focused, singular view is new to me, new to us. Let's embrace it as a gift and let it hold us into the future of God's embracing us all.