Love Notes... A few words from our pastor

For many years, the slogan for the Peace Corps has been “The toughest job you’ll ever love.” I think of that phrase at least once a day as I care for my 93-year-old mother in California.

Caring for my mother isn’t a job, of course. But it’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done. Far tougher than going through four rounds of hard-hitting chemo and six weeks of radiation one year into my first pastorate. Tougher even than serving a church that was cleaving in two and trying to remain as faithful as I could through the tumult.

It’s not been lost on me that my journey-turned-odyssey (as Marcia Coman called this) started just as the Western church was preparing to pivot from the season of Epiphany into Lent. With its daily reminders of mortality, vulnerability, and the call to go the distance in love, this time in my life feels quite Lenten.

These days are hard. They are also holy. God is present at every turn, even though I’m often not spiritually astute enough to recognize this in real-time.

If these days are hard and holy, they also include some unexpected hilarity. Last week my mother went to the ER by ambulance, her third visit in a week. The following morning when I went into her room to see how she had slept, she said with a most serious voice, “We have to call 9-1-1.” When I asked why, she replied, “They need to come fix us breakfast; we’re hungry!” I’m not sure if she was serious or being silly—and it really didn’t matter. I laughed so hard imagining EMTs flipping pancakes for us that I had endorphins flowing all morning, a welcome respite from the heaviness of daily managing my mother’s complicated care.

If this is the toughest job I’ve ever loved, what makes it all so much easier is the support and prayers you all have extended to me. Having been liberated from concern about anything beyond my mother’s care is grace upon grace, gift upon gift. Because you all are so good at loving—and so humble, too—you may not know how much of a difference your love has made/is making/will make in my life and that of my sweet mother. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so held—or so ill-equipped to express gratitude for such generosity of heart, spirit, and pocketbook.

Please know that as I think of you all and pray for your flourishing while I am away, I am not the least bit worried about your ability to carry on without me. Your creativity, reliance on the Spirit, and your love for one another are more than enough to see you through. I can’t wait to discover all the ways you have grown for having had the experience you’re having now, ways God can and will use for great, even glorious, good.

With you on the journey (even from afar),