Wednesday, 25 February in the season of Lent
Sometimes I visit Covenant Baptist Church on a Sunday morning. Not often. A few times a year. It’s always nice. I’m happy to see my old friends and they are happy to see me. I always experience powerful feelings there. How would you describe feeling very happy and nostalgic and introspective and a little out of place, as if time had moved on and you’re stuck a few years behind everyone else?
The last time I visited they were singing old hymns that reminded me of the faith my grandparents gave to my parents and they gave to me. Spirit of the Living God, O Worship the King, Breathe on Me Breath of God, We are One in the Bond of Love.
I fought tears throughout the service. That doesn’t always happen when I’m there. I think I was feeling particularly lost that Sunday and Covenant is a place where I remember not being lost.
Also I dropped in my traces there, which brings powerful feelings to me now. I travelled with them until I could go no further. I had to move aside so they could continue, which they have. There is a wound that clergy who cannot go on receive. I have no regrets and carry that wound with pride. I am not healed yet. I may never be healed or perhaps I must learn what healing might mean for me.
Kyndall’s voice is a delight to me when I am there. I mean both her physical voice and the voice of her soul. It reminds me of Linus’ voice from A Charlie Brown Christmas. I hope she doesn’t mind me saying that, but why would she? That’s a great voice to have. She speaks wisely and with great gentleness.
My special friends are still there and quiet as ever. The wooden table. The candles in the fireplace. The mantle. The friendly chairs in formation. The slow Oaks who yawned once when I arrived, yawned again and found that I was gone. The hasty weeds who came and went in a fortnight. The cross that hangs. The blanket that blankets. The hymnals that hymn, especially the rogue hymnal whose cover was put on upside down. Our little Heyoka Hymnal. How I loved him.
These quiet friends are the unconscious servants of the Most High. Like Brother Fire and Sister Wind, they are what they are. What they lack in expression and action they make up for in longevity. They will be there after I am laid in the earth and the sum of their total communication with Covenant pilgrims will far surpass my weekly jibber jabberings.
Yes. Something is occurring to me. I might be starting to understand. My feelings when I am at Covenant are complex because I am slowly turning into one of the unconscious servants of that community. My new way of being with them is much like the rocks and the chairs and the paths in the woods. I am the former pastor, who exists now in stories and who is frozen in his time. I think it must be rather jarring to see me in the flesh there, speaking and walking about and being alive.
Fortunately I am mostly quiet and still when I am there. That is a good thing. I see that now.