My dear friends in Christ,
Here is the final (for now) installment of my Spiritual Autobiography. As I mentioned in the introduction to Part 1, I’ve been sharing these details of my spiritual journey from childhood to priesthood and to All Saints Episcopal Church not (with all due respect to Walt Whitman) to celebrate myself, but in an attempt to begin (at least) to make up for time lost to the Covid-19 pandemic, time we would otherwise have been able to spend getting to know each other and building the close relationships that are so important to the life and health of a thriving parish.
If anything here has in any way sparked your interest, if you have questions, or if you’d just like to connect and talk about something else entirely, please let me know at email@example.com, or at 920.266.9262. I very much look forward to hearing from y’all!
Conclusion: Okay, that’s my story … but what have I not told you?
Well, honestly, there is so much I haven’t told you, even in a newsletter column comprising eight installments and spanning several months. (I mean, in light of those facts, you can’t say it’s for lack of trying, right? :) ) There is too much left out and left over to condense into this conclusion; unlike the illustrious Inigo Montoya, I can’t even “sum up.” Even in all these entries, it seems there just wasn’t time to tell you about my erstwhile attempts to become a 1970s guitar hero, the years that I served on the board of directors for a professional writers association/conference, my time as a newspaper reporter, a lumber/building supply salesman, a burger-slinger, a telemarketer (yikes!). Indeed, I’ve even left out most of my time teaching freshman English for various colleges—my life for 19 years, if you include the three years that I taught half time whilst pursuing my first master’s degree.
And even of the things that I have shared with you about my spiritual journey, there are so many wonderful, and wonderfully weird, details and detours, dead-ends and do-overs that have gone unmentioned in the telling. I assure you, that is not because I’m being coy, much less because I feel like there’s anything to hide. In part, the omissions were down to limits upon time and space—I don’t mean in the cosmic sense of astrophysics, by the way! The space-time continuum did not warp or in any way interfere with my writing process. Rather, there was only so much time I could devote to these column entries, and there was only so much space I could justify taking up in the parish newsletter!
The other reason, though, for leaving out so much of the story, so much of myself, is that, Covid pandemic restrictions aside, I am still very much looking forward to spending time, face to face, in person, with as many of you in this parish as we possibly can in the coming year. For the moment, it does appear that the rates of infection are once again forcing us to clamp down on gathering together in person, but this circumstance will not last forever (however much it might feel, right now, as if it might)! So I’d like you all to know that there’s still plenty left for us to discover together, for us to take mutual delight in as we learn each other’s stories and histories and share more of our own.
If you have never attempted to write your own spiritual autobiography, I strongly encourage you all to give it a try. The underlying process of trying to write out the story of your journey to, and with, God can be enlightening, transforming, even liberating … whether or not you ever create a completed document on paper. It is a very good way to prepare yourself to make an account of the joy that is in you, something we Christians are admonished and encouraged to be able to do at all times.
At any rate, I eagerly look ahead to any and all opportunities that will arise for me to hear and learn your stories. I’ve made a bit of a start, with some of you, so far in this first … is it almost two years already? Wow. On one hand, the time has flown by; on the other, thanks to Covid, it feels like nearly two decades instead of nearly two years. In that time, it has been my great privilege to begin getting to know many of you; I enthusiastically look forward to getting to know the rest of you as we work together to make sure All Saints continues to do its part to serve God’s kingdom here in Appleton.
Peace and blessings to you all!