Thursday, 29 September 2016

No more prairie sunrises

I awoke at my sister in law's home in Waskada to a beautiful prairie sunrise. Orange sky stretching across the seemingly infinite horizon. Crescent moon hanging in the darkness above.

Realizing this was one of my last prairie sunrises, I felt a wave of sadness. I've been feeling more than a wave lately. On Sunday it was a tsunami. As I preached my last sermon I kept my tablet handy, knowing I'd need to resort to reading parts of it if my emotions got the better of me. 

I haven't felt this overwhelmed on leaving a community since I was moved from St. Theresa Point to The Pas. The definitive word there is "moved." As a priest at the time I really had little choice. Though I felt I had much more to offer in STP, Wassagamack and Garden Hill, my bishop had other plans. In the end he was right. I did significant work as rector of the cathedral and pastor of 4 additional parishes. Heading up the lay leaders training team was a joy. I loved my years in The Pas. It's there I learned the importance of cultivating community partnerships. But I left a piece of my heart in Island Lake.

I realized that the circumstances with this move are similar. My dad's decision not to come West to stay with my sister forced my hand. I knew would not come to Edmonton either. The words "I've lived in Ontario for 50 years" said it all. Plus until we know the cause of his memory issues, we can't risk a major move. I've seen too many seniors deteriorate more quickly when moved involuntarily to unfamiliar surroundings. I had more to offer St. Albert, Edmonton Presbytery and Alberta Northwest Conference. But family comes first. My dad needs support and Glen and I have an opportunity to strengthen a relationship with him in his final years.

And there are others with whom I can share my gifts. Like the move to The Pas, I know this next chapter of my life is Spirit-led. It feels like doors have opened easily. I'm excited by a new opportunity in a new community. The folks in Richmond Hill are doing good work and exploring new possibilities for ministry. I'm looking forward to jumping into the fray. Plus there will be opportunities to work with colleagues in Living Waters Presbytery and Toronto Conference. This move is the right move for both me and Glen.

But those prairie sunrises are an important part of my story. And I will miss them.

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