I have spent the past week weaving together photos, reflections, quotes, and other tributes from members of my faith community as we prepare to say good-bye and send our well-wishes to Susan, who has been our Associate Rector for the past five years. In creating this virtual tribute, I recognized a pattern that is beginning to feel familiar. I felt a nudging of my spirit and an idea forming (albeit, half baked at first) in my mind. I said “yes” and took a step forward by putting the idea out there and committing myself to see it through as it evolved. Others joined along, momentum began to build, ideas began to flow, and time presented itself in unexpected ways so that I could calmly complete what I had set out to do. The product is more than I could have anticipated, and the process was transformative. And now, on the day this tribute will be presented, I look back on the experience and investment of time and realize that once again, I received even more from “showing up and saying yes” than what I put in.
In that spirit, I am writing this tribute to Susan here on my blog. Because she is a brilliant (not small) point of light on my journey.
Susan has given a great gift both to our faith community, and to me, personally. The gift she conveys is that of wisdom and presence, of bringing her whole self into what she says and how she allows her religious vocation to move through her. She is prompted to act, puts it out there, experiences it fully, and finds (and helps other find) the growth within their present moments. This is true of her blogging on our church website (a lasting treasure), her deep questions posed to individuals and groups both electronically and via sticky note as well as in person, her sermons that wrap TED talks and scripture and sacred writings from around the world, her “parish reads” that push us forward, her sincerity in speaking, working, and living the Good News. It is also true of her conversations with me, the questions she has posed for me to ponder, the doors she has opened to invite me to walk through, her encouragement to take meaningful risks that have furthered my own spiritual journey. She speaks truth to spirit with me, and has a vision of what can be actualized in my life even when it is merely a glimmer of possibility in my spirit. It has been a true gift to have met her on this chapter of my journey. Actually, I deeply believe that our paths crossing at this time in our lives was not accidental. It was and is a gift of spirit, and for that I am deeply grateful.
I also blame her for my blogging. That’s right, Susan. If you are reading this, take that one in. 🙂
To say a bit more, I am fairly confident that without her living examples of the power of media, blogging would have remained solely in my classroom and used for professional, objective information gathering and sharing. Not so much anymore. My foray into spiritual journeying in cyberspace, for anyone to read who wants to, is beyond my own intellectual willingness. It truly is. I can’t even think about it too much or it seems crazy and terrifying. And yet, months into this process, I can say it has been transformative to me, personally and professionally. It has transformed my relationships with people who knew me…but not all of me. It has opened new conversations with those I have never even met. And, it has helped me find both voice and meaning through story. I hold her accountable, not because she told me to do it (she didn’t) but that she understood the transformative power of such an experience and was a witness to it taking hold in my life. Borrowing the language of Richard Rohr, this has allowed my journey to become incarnate in me. The experience of writing and reflecting on my journey as it unfolds has altered my present reality into something deeply spiritual. She saw that potential and nurtured it, cultivating opportunities for growth and change in my own vision and understanding of spirit and spirituality in my life. And yes, that is allowing new paths of my life to unfold moment by moment, open door after open door, and “yes” by “yes.”
So, thank you, Susan. You should have known you’d be getting a blog post as you head off for a summer of ministry on the Mountain, and then the next chapter of your journey in a new state and a new city. You have left an indelible mark on this community of faith, and you are and will continue to be a dynamic presence on my spiritual journey. I will still be blogging, and emailing, so I know you will continue to see that unfold. And I cannot wait to see where your own journey leads. It will be amazing to watch and witness that.
Sending the love of God, the wisdom of spirit, and the gratitude of community to be with you all along the way as each new door opens…
Link to Susan’s Tribute: http://www.haikudeck.com/p/jfL7DhooZw/virtual-susan