I just had the opportunity to spend a few days with ring member St. Casserole. I still remember the first blogpost of hers I read, both its detail and its whimsy, but at the time I had no thought we would ever meet and become friends “in real life,” as they say. Still, I encountered something in her turn of phrase that made me come back again and again, and eventually led to both a trip to her part of the world to volunteer after Hurricane Katrina and to the founding of RevGalBlogPals.
In this week some of us are preaching about a woman who encounters Jesus at the well, please name five encounters in your life leading to unexpected results. They might include learning a new skill, making a friend, falling in love, discerning a call or anything around or far off from those ideas.
- In the summer of 2003 I was in my second pastorate and went to the Interprovincial Women’s Conference that the Moravian Church in north America holds every 4 years. I meet lots of folks at these conferences and many of them seem to know who I am but I feel so bad because often I don’t recall who they are. Female clergy are almost always being asked to talk or rather listen and offer prayer. But 2003 brought a different encounter for me. I met someone who herself was feeling called to ministry and was my age. We hung out a bunch and I believe I was with her when she received word from home that she had been accepted at Duke divinity School. I prayed for her often but our paths didn’t really cross again for 5 years when she was asked to be the lay delegate and I the clergy delegate for a consultation that was to be held in Herrnhut Germany. How elated I was when I found out who would be my traveling companion and together we did travel from Raleigh to London, London to Prague (where we spent a few days) and then by train and eventually bus from Prague to Herrnhut Germany (our moravian home, so to speak). But not only did we travel the world together our spirits were united in a friendship that today spans several states. She’s my biggest supporter when it comes to taking time to care of myself and she helps me help the church see mental illness as something we need to do more than talk about. She has become one of my dearest friends and without her I can’t imagine my life. Daily I thank God for text messages, Facebook and other sources of modern technology.
- In a similar way I was at a youth convocation while in college and my room-mate and I had no idea who each other was. She was from North Carolina and I from Western Canada. We chatted at night but didn’t really hang out as we travelled in different circles that week. Fast forward several years and we would almost be room mates again but this time at Moravian Theological Seminary. Her apartment was on the same floor as my soon to be husband and my first year of marriage my husband often jokes he thought he was married to both of us – as he would often have to kick us out of our apartment so he could go to bed….but we would just pick up bookes and our Pepsis and move on over to her apartment. Both of us ordained now and we’ve never served any closer than 5 hours from one another but our friendship spans the states as we seek to support one another in ministry, motherhood, and basic day to day issues of juggling husbands, children, congregations, and our personal lives. I’m blessed beyond measure by her friendship and the knowledge that I know she’s only a call away whenever I need a familar and comforting voice…..the icing on the cake is that she gets being a couple in ministry as her husband to is clergy. But the cherry on top is that she blessed my life with a God daughter to love and by girly things for.
- While serving our second church my husband and I suffered several miscarriages and then infertility. I carried one baby into my second trimester and ended up having to have a D&E. I was eaten up over it and had lots of questions. Normally I could turn to my husband for support but he was grieving also and we were at different places. I turned to a bishop who I barely knew. (In the Moravian church a bishops primary function is to be a pastor to the pastors, at that time and currently there were/are no female bishops in the south). This bishop listened to me as I cried and grieved the loss of children, the longing to be a mother and the wondering of the theological implications of where my babies were. But he also listened as I wondered if any of the trauma I had suffered as a child had any implications as to why I couldn’t have children – was God punishing me I wondered. He never judged and has never judged me. He gently reassured me and reminded me that I am a beloved child of God. To this day he’s my pastor! When we moved to the metro Atlanta area and adopted our son, it was he who travelled to baptize him – so that day Joe and I could be mommy and daddy. It was he who visited me while I was on leave recently and he who visits our littleman when he has been sick and hospitalized. Why is he an unlikely encounter – because of the trust I have for him!
- While in seminary I was also blessed to have a counsellor who later became more of a mentor. She hugged me when I cried, she guided me through many life transitions – especially from being single to being married. She listened and when all I could see was darkness she saw the light. The light of Christ that surrounded me and was within me. To this day when something significant happens she’s on my list of people to call to ask for prayers, to ask for advice or to simply just listen.
- I’m a knitter – not the greatest knitter – but when you are a knitter you find that knitters bound together in ways that are unexplainable. I’ve got great friends whom I’ve never met but whom I text on a regular basis, I daily interact with a group of knit biters on ravelry that are truly my fiber loving sisters. While in the Atlanta area I knit with a group of eclectic ladies on Friday nights that I knew had my back if I ever needed them. We supported one another and helped one another in knitting projects but more importantly in life. And even in my current setting I’ve got friends that the only reason our paths crossed was our love of yarn and our favorite yarn store.
- Okay I have 6 – I would be missing two of the most important people if I didn’t bend the rules just a bit. My husband, my soul mate, my partner in life and ministry. It’s he who picks up after me when I’m unable to do so myself. God richly blessed me that first day of seminary in the first person I met – neither of us knew two years later we would be saying “I do”! Together we have an 8 year old littleman who reminds us to take time and play, who makes us laugh on a daily basis and is forever keeping us on our toes.