This was what I wrote as a farewell hymn to Chewelah UCC where I served as Interim Pastor:
When I begin a story to tell of a kind place, a place where a heart can heal and open and dance, a place where you learn more than just your neighbor’s name or their political party to hold against them in secret conversation, a place where guards are let down and talk is easy, ideas are welcomed,
I shall write of you.
When I dig deep into relationships, friend being friend to the unlikeliest of intimates, caring about them, interested in them, desiring of their delight and well-being, grieving their failures, and gathering around them in their loneliness; when I watch the lives unfold on pages before me, the daily grind of work and play made so sweet by the tender ways of those who charm us, who move us, who inspire us, I shall write of you.
When I tell of the perfect day, of a sun that doesn’t scorch, snow that glistens, a valley of silk grass and golden grain, of mountains stretched up and across the horizon, a winding and clear and stony creek, a long and narrow river moving and moving to faraway oceans, the squeals of children jumping in, floating downstream; when I tell of brown paper bags of ripe cherries, donut peaches, and tall cups of hot coffee, the sharp whistle of the train slowing down to glide through a sleepy town, that perfect day we long for, I shall write of you.
And when I dare venture to speak of church, the true church, the beloved community, the gathering of those who know they come only by grace and who widen their hearts, make room on their pews to others who come by the same way, the family of the humble and the humbled, the lovely and the unloved, the broken and the healed, the wee ones who dance to hymns, their little knees bending and lifting and the old ones who sing new songs with vigor, those who weep recalling what has been lost and those who pray in hopes for that which will be found, when I tell that story, the one of faith-seekers, pilgrims pulling together, holding together, moving together, the story of us at our best and even our worst, but still a story of us stumbling forward together in grateful anticipation, in joyful unity, in peace, in God’s perfect immeasurable love, always and forever,
I shall write of you.