Apropos of the post prior to this one, and in the category of bittersweetness:
After the principal Mass this morning there was a festive brunch in honor of my Plutotian spouse and me--the second part of a double whammy that began last Friday evening with a dinner. Today we were presented with a memory album that is too incredible to describe, expect to point out that it took two dedicated individuals more hours than they would want to document putting it together--truly a labor of love before which I stand humbled. On Friday, in addition to some extraordinarily thoughtful and generous gifts, they showed one of those slideshows with music that are vitually guaranteed to leave no dry eyes in the house--including mine.
What I share now, I choose not because it's the only instance of the sentiments it expresses, but because it summarizes those sentiments in a particularly moving and compelling way. Among the many cards we were presented with both this morning and on Friday, was this note:
Dear Fr Dan & Brenda:
The news of your resignation came as quite a blow to [my husband] and me. While we fully understand and appreciate the processes of church leadership and all its implications, we selfishly want you to stay. In fact, at different times over the course this past month (after hearing your news), we felt like begging you "Please don't go!" On the other side (those warring sides of our nature are ever evident) we pray that you have a tremendous ministry in Indiana.
Over the course of the past three years, we have come to realize the fullness of your ministry to us. We arrived at St John's back pew about three years ago on a whim. To be honest, our initial motivation was to get a peek at the inside of "that really cool old church by the theater" and check out a liturgical service. From the first Sunday, we both felt an overwhelming sense of safety. Looking back now, it is obvious that God directed us to you, Fr Dan and Brenda. Between the two of you, we have once again experienced the grace and comfort of our Father God through your messages, kindness, and music. Fr Dan, we'll never forget that you visited my dad in the hospital and prayed for him. That was the day you became our pastor. We also consider the service when you washed our feet as a hallmark event in our Christian lives. Brenda, your talents and leadership have restored our ability to truly worship, once again, in a church through music. You have the ability to point us to the cross, and keep the focus there.
We only have one regret, and that is that it took us so long to finally commit to the fellowship of St John's. Our only explanation is that we have needed these few years to get it right and figure it all out. We have never claimed to be a genius!
With much love and gratitude for your faithfulness,
I have my share of regrets about things I've done and things I've left undone in the ministry I am about to take my leave of. But those regrets pale into insignificance when I read something like this. To be able to touch lives in such a way is a privilege too precious to even speak about.