I just had a mountain-top experience.
No, really. I was literally on a mountain, 9000 feet above sea level where the air is crisp, clean,
and very thin. It was a little sad how belabored my breath became after just a few short
steps…but I digress. The landscape was beautiful—clear skies, mild days and chilly nights—and
my body was confused about having to wear a hoodie in the midst of August. The campgrounds
were accommodating and the staff was very friendly. Thirty bishops, priests and lay ministers
from around the nation gathered together to engage in conversation concerning unity and
division within the church—a timely conversation regarding our current context. So…all had
arrived and everything was going well that first day when, all of the sudden, clouds rolled in,
lightning crashed and thunder spoke it’s judgment to the people of the mountain: “You will not
have wi-fi or access to the outer world whilst on my mountain.” For three days, a group of
highly-connected individuals who are always on emails, social media or chatting via text were
suddenly left walking around in a confused stupor, not knowing what to do.
It was awesome.
Being unplugged allowed for a deeper connection, oddly enough. Without our phones or
laptops to distract and call us back to our work back at home, we were able to be present with
one another on a different level. For three days, the Holy Spirit spoke without having to
compete with Siri.
For me, it was life-giving.
I thought about how grateful I am to have this life; there’s nothing like being a priest. I have
been blessed beyond compare to have been called by name to Church of the Resurrection, to
spread by word and example the good news of Jesus Christ, and to do so with a community of
people who consistently and continually amaze me by their faith. You. All of you. You’re so
important to me, you’re my family. Through our ups and downs, and even during the times
when you’re not here, I’m constantly thankful for you and couldn’t imagine being anywhere
else, now, alongside you.
Today marks two years at Resurrection. Two wonderful, challenging, joy-filled, sometimes
heart-breaking years. I realized something: I’ve been on a mountain-top all along. As I listen to
others of my ilk, I hear their woes and worries, their frustrations and chaos; but I also hear in
them the same love I feel in my soul when they talk about their people. It’s not always easy
being a priest—sometimes the heart-ache threatens to overwhelm me during times of conflict
and loss—but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Your clergy love you very much, you need to
know that. We’re not perfect…far from it, actually. Sometimes we say things that we mean in a
different way than perceived, sometimes we don’t have the answers, sometimes we want to
rail and scream just like you. But we ALWAYS love you. No exceptions. And here’s my message
to you, two years in:
I care for you and this place with everything I have. When I stumble, catch me. When I say
something dumb, tell me and I’ll try to do better. When I disappoint, anger, or sadden you,
know that my heart apologizes in advance. But above all, know that you and this place are a
mountain-top for me. A place where I feel connected deeply to the Holy Spirit and to all of you.
A place of exciting times and God’s work. And I hope to be your priest for many years to come,
so that we can continue being on the mountain together, in this holy community of
Resurrection. Thank you for calling me and Nicole, our lives are better because of it.