For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 1 Corinthians 13: 12
These words of St. Paul wind up his “Hymn to Love” - part of Paul’s first letter to the new Christians in Corinth. In this letter, Paul has been working to call the Corinthians back to basics- they’ve been distracted by the splendor of the many gifts of the Spirit and in this letter Paul is trying to re-ground them in the fundamental principles of the Jesus Movement: Faith, Hope and Love… and he teaches “…the greatest of these is Love.” (I Cor. 13:13)
The part of this letter that has resonated with me this week is the verse about seeing in the mirror. Older versions of scripture use the phrase, “...for now we see in a glass, darkly….” (which strikes me as a little more mysterious and antique) but really, either of these translations capture quite well, my experience of this past week: Now that I am here, in Central PA, I am beginning to see, face to face, the beauty and the gifts of this place and the work to which you have called me.
One week ago, my husband Glenn and I waved goodbye to the 18 wheeler in our CT driveway and watched as it lumbered out of our driveway and down the narrow street (barely missing the power lines and our neighbor’s parked car). Inside this truck was nearly everything we owned. We waved goodbye and I held a slip of paper in my hand with a scrawled address of a storage facility in Camp Hill, PA; that’s where our “inventory” would rest until we came to call for it. The next day, Saturday, we loaded up a rental van with the remainder of our things (the “basics” that we thought we’d need for our temporary rental unit- clothes, pots and pans, linens, office supplies) and we found our way to Rt. 8 and to Rt. 84, to Rt. 684, to the Saw Mill Parkway, over the “Tap,” through New Jersey, and… finally, to PA. I was sad. Sure, I was sad. I’d lived in CT for 52 years. We’d lived in our community for 30 years and were leaving friends, family and a happy life. But we were, finally, going to see what it was that we figured was God’s next idea for us: ministry in Central PA.
Finally, after more than a year of thinking, dreaming, reading, talking and praying about this place and this call… we were going to get started.
In this past week, I have begun to get a clearer vision of the work ahead. I’ve settled in, some, at Pine St. and I have begun to figure out some of the essentials: Pine Street is a one-way street. Cats do not abide harnesses and leashes (a story that deserves a blog post all of its own). Duke’s mayonnaise may become the replacement for my beloved Cain’s.
The office staff has been incredibly welcoming and I’m beginning to find my way around that old mansion that has more nooks and crannies than an English muffin. I asked Carolyn to hold off making any “outside” appointments for me in this first week so that I could get my bearings and I have spent time with Bishop Gepert and staff members trying to catch up on the “work in progress.” One thing that I want to acknowledge and honor is that while I have been sitting in CT for more than a year dreaming about this place and, even more, for the past 4 months since the election, making plans… you have been here, in PA, worshipping, working, singing, praying, and participating in the mission of God, all along. I am hardly coming to “get started” with you as much as I am coming to wade in the water with you, and join in the ministry and life that God is already working in you, for the sake of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I have ideas. Sure, I do. And my first idea is to get to know you. To see you, face to face. Some of my early initiatives will be to engage a more compact visitation schedule so that I can be with you in your parishes as frequently as the calendar will allow. I’m hoping for a more robust visitation experience that (more often than not) will allow for an “overnight” visitation with a dinner or meeting or fellowship event on Saturday afternoon, leading up to Sunday morning. I’m working to find space in my calendar to include some 3-day Convocation “tours” in which the members of each Convocation can plan a “field trip” for me to show me their particular part of the diocese, and, even sooner, I am looking forward to the “Meet and Greets” that each Convocation is setting up for us in August to spend time together and to begin to get to know each other.
For me, the Church is the people. You’ve called me to lead the Church in the Episcopal Diocese of Central PA- to listen for God’s Word to us and to find ways for us to best participate in God’s mission of reconciliation and restoration. I am thrilled that the time has arrived. I am ready to meet you, to hear your stories of success, to learn about the sticking places and disappointments, to craft a way forward and, above all, to remain close to what St Paul – and Jesus- would hold up as True: Faith, Hope and Love.
In Christ’s love,