Yesterday I had coffee with an adoptive mom who has a big vision for supporting adoptive families in the Twin Cities. Mark your calendars for October 27th because if you are in or near Minnesota you need to plan to join us. Looks like Bart and I and Kari will all be speaking in some form or another and that it's going to be a great day. Many more details to come.
Only if you are part of a clergy family can you fully understand what today is going to be like for us. We are going to be walking into a room that contains a few people that we know, and many many more who we do not know. They will be nice to us, in that "Minnesota nice" sort of way, and we will enjoy meeting them. But today they will be strangers. We know that in 5 years or 10 or 15 or whenever it is that we leave this church for the next one (or maybe even for retirement???) that we will be leaving dear friends.
I can't help think of our first Sunday in Mankato six years ago. We walked into a room full of strangers on that day and a few weeks ago we cried because we were leaving so many good friends.
The kids were much younger that first Sunday in Mankato and I was much more stressed about whether or not they would be appropriate and apparently they weren't. Leon and Wilson were both strangers we had not yet met, but we still headed to church with 8 kids, I believe. Today I'm pretty confident that the the five who go with me today will all appear to be perfectly normal and actually some of these going with me today are. I will have the privilege of introducing people to Isaac as well ... someone who didn't exist several years ago. Salinda and Gabby didn't make it as planned, but another day I will be able to introduce them as well... but this congregation is lucky in that they are going to meet people in shifts.
Last night we went to the park after dinner and it was really fun watching Isaac and his uncles play. He enjoyed having Bart push him in the swing so much that he kept refusing to get out. It was super fun to observe.
Things are good here... for some reason we all feel settled. Maybe it's simply because there are fewer of us, or because everything is new, or because some of those who love to instigate or who over-respond to stress aren't here. But it's nice to feel like I can focus some energy in other directions.
The way I explained it to Bart last night was like this: When we were in Luverne and Mankato I felt as though I was looking at life through a very dirty window that was tainted by the constant and insistent needs of some very troubled kids. In Luverne they were younger without as many issues, so it was more the physical exhaustion and stress of so many. In Mankato we faced some really difficult situations with several of our kids. I feel now that the window of my life has been wiped clean. I can see clearly the opportunities around me and I have energy to do something with them.
My friend Ginny, who many of you who live in Minnesota know, sent me this quote about vocation:
"The best definition I have ever heard of a vocation is that it's the place where your great joy meets the world's great need. ... We need all of you to find your vocation. To develop your joys, your passions, and to match them to the world's great needs."
~ Eric Greitensm, US Navy Seal & Rhodes Scholar
In the coming years I hope to do this with more energy -- the energy that comes from looking out a clean window and finding the needs around me.... matching them with my passions and joys.
I may need to buy some sunglasses though.... up until now I didn't need them, but it appears at this point, with a clean window... that my future's so bright I gotta wear shades...