Signing off, at least partially and only temporarily. Sabbatical for me begins at the end of this week, actually the second sabbatical of my life and career. Yes, 14 years has gone by quickly at Church of the Holy Communion.
Where does time go? When you’re having as much fun as we do in this parish, it’s easy to let it slip by without paying attention. Perhaps my sabbatical leave will help me pay better attention.
Of course, 14 years in any one place is not filled with all wine and roses, although thanks to our famous All Saints Annual Shrimp Dinner, this parish does own more wine carafes than any I’ve served. And as hindsight is always 20/20, looking back always identifies some loss, and I still miss a number of favorite people.
In my first month here, parish newsletter labeler Mopsy Holbert asked me how I was doing, commenting, “Well, it’s best not unpack all of your boxes all at once; sometimes these things don’t work out.” Puzzled and downtrodden, I asked around. “Oh, is Mopsy picking at you? That means that she really likes you.” Whew. She also personally and emphatically commanded me to not play “Amazing grace” at her funeral. (I did not.)
Front desk volunteer Mike Kuykendall would answer the phones all day and then take our entire set of handbells home with him, dropping them by the next morning completely hand-polished. Handbell choirs are supposed to polish their own handbells. Mike never once played a handbell; he just wanted to help out the music department.
Faithfully paying attention to scripture and music and the marriage of the two, Mary Wrenetta McCain, a nonagenarian computer and Internet user, would periodically send me emails commenting upon something musically and liturgically specific. Because of her macular degeneration, she typed emails in 16-point type, and I miss those emails so much.
I am grateful that Charles and Diana Crump, charter members of this parish, were still around until 2010-2011. Charles was our parish encyclopedia and always told me what he thought, but Diana was my special secret friend: “When we started this parish, Charles was always all about the building. I wanted a decent music program.” The musicians of this parish always knew that Diana was our biggest behind-the-scenes cheerleader.
From the sabbatical trail I will be writing from conference and continuing education locations: Stamford/Greenwich, Houston, Collegeville, St. Louis and Bloomington, with some vacation time between.
My supremely qualified colleagues Dr. Jane Gamble and Ellen Koziel will be holding down the fort. I can scarcely express how grateful I am for them. After this sabbatical, I predict that I will return even more grateful than I am at the moment. And perhaps I’ll pay better attention in the future.