“Life is short. And we don’t have much time to gladden the hearts of those who walk the way with us. So let us be swift to love and make haste to be kind.” (Henri-Frederic Amiel)
“We are joyful and exhuausted,” the first words I heard. Words that spoke of a significant and meaningful time as indeed it was last weekend at the Congregational Church of Boothbay Harbor as the congregation met and voted to call Todd Weir as their new settled pastor. 22 months after Sarah Foulger’s retirement after 16 years of ministry; 19 months after my coming here as interim pastor; 5 months of weekly search committee meetings. A call heard and affirmed. The fullness of time.
Last weekend as the congregation was meeting with Todd, I was across the country in Portland, Oregon visiting my friend Esther. Esther was diagnosed with terminal cancer a year ago and since then we’d been waiting and hoping for this time to be together. We had a wonderful two days of conversations, watching movies and most importantly the chance to meet Esther’s close friends who like me had committed to be there with her along this way. The grace of time.
When I returned on Sunday night, the first news I heard was of Kim’s death in an ATV accident that day. A day of fun with her fiancé, family and friends turned to tragedy. A hole of grief in this community, a life that touched so many children and families as she ran the only day care center in town. A woman far too young with young children, a grandchild on the way and a wedding to look forward to in January. Time out of time. The heartbreak of time.
On Wednesday evening the church offered a time to gather in the memorial garden to remember Kim and share some words about how she had touched our lives. 40 members of Kim’s family came, a great circle of remembrance, words and tears. The circle of time.
On Thursday I had the privilege of being with Jane and her step-daughter Emily as we kept vigil during the last hours of Roger’s life. A time in which we were reminded that death takes its time, its own time. No hurrying or rushing it. The holiness of time.
Returned home to the visit of friends Marlene and Judy who helped me on Friday and Saturday empty the 37 boxes of my past that until now I had been unable to let go of. An emptying of boxes, and with it the release of memory, laughter, thanksgiving, tears. The letting go in time.
And in and through it all, COVID. A week that reminded us again that while we are so done with the coronavirus, it is not done with us. New cases on the rise. Increasing concern for all who are unvaccinated. The need for continuing care in walking through a time we wish was over.
I don’t know what to make of it all except perhaps the cliché to say that time is precious and we need to be awake to it.
And so now, a new season. Two months left of this time, this interim time here with this beloved community. A week that sings to me of the call and opportunity of being present to time. This grace and gift, this preciousness of this very moment in time. Yes, I want to take it all in. Be awake to all of it. This unfolding through time. This wonder.