Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Dad with No Name:
Humility, Obscurity, & the Laughter of Encounter with God

For liturgical Christians, today is the Feast of the Visitation. The day remembers Mary's visit to Elizabeth, while both were pregnant. John the Baptist leaped in Elizabeth's womb to celebrate the Christ child's presence in Mary. Among other things, the encounter occasioned two great refrains that, for millennia, have been appropriated for use in the prayer lives of faithful Christians:

  • The first refrain is Elizabeth's loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." It is a refrain still daily cried by millions of people in the context of the Rosary prayer tradition. 
  • The second refrain, of course, is Mary's Magnificat: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my Spirit rejoices in God, my Savior," ff.

On the strength of these prayerful refrains, Christians today rightly reflect on themes of humility, hospitality, obedience, and joy at being found in the presence of Christ. 

While the uniqueness of these themes is beyond denying, their interdependence is equally an unmistakably true. Hospitality requires humility and obedience (listening to others); gives birth to joy.

Elizabeth says yes to Mary, who has recently said yes to the Spirit through Gabriel. Elizabeth's hospitality celebrates Mary's. Both harken back to Sarah and Abraham; Sarah's womb opened through the promise of God encountered in hospitality extended to strangersAbraham and Sarah's hospitality became an icon of the Christian church. In fact, in the long and beautiful tradition of Eastern iconography, the hospitality Abraham and Sarah extend to these strangers is recognized as the only allowable depiction of the great mystery we call the Trinity. 

In the icon, only the welcomed visitors are visible. Though Abraham's home is still visible, the welcomers have disappeared. And any host with practice recognizes the visitors' centrality as both right and deeply satisfying. No one remembers who introduces the main speaker. Thus the strong interplay that links hospitality and humility.

On that score: while it's important to say that Mary's pregnancy is most ways unique, it is also a longstanding teaching of the church that to make room in one's home for a child is an act of Christian hospitality. And for how many famous people can you also name the parents? Mary might top the shortlist, the exception who proves the rule. Annie wasn't two years old when her friends starting calling me only, "The Dad." Hospitality hanging out with humility, again.


All of which explains in part, I think, why Christian celebrities can be so hard to come by. The SFH community regularly kick around the question, "Which Anglican/Episcopalian could we - hypothetically - invite to campus and have her/him welcomed with instant name recognition and "buzz." The only one I can come up with is Archbishop Desmond Tutu. 

As a young acolyte - read, altar boy - I remember my training supervisor telling me and my friends that the point was not to have people notice what a good job we were doing. The point was to serve without being noticed. But, if I ever get it right, who will take notice of that??

And now, a brief intermission from the post for some real talk about humility from the poet David Budbill:
Dilemma
by David Budbill

I want to be 
famous
so I can be 
humble
about being
famous.

What good is my
humility
when I am
stuck
in this
obscurity?

Of course, sometimes serving requires exactly being seen doing the thing that nobody wants to be seen doing. Standing with the least and last and lost. Speaking the prophetic challenge. Confessing one's sin and the need for forgiveness. Even there, though, we hope that our visibility to others does not define our presence and our actions. Pope Francis is a wonderful model in this regard. The visibility of his position gives his actions symbolic meaning, and yet they are the same actions he has done for decades without anyone's eyes or attention. What was a departure for the position is a continuation of his being in relationship with God, one given flesh and blood and physicality long before he took up the papal office

To be humble in obscurity requires discovery and trust of God in the mess of life. I take joy to be another word for this discovery and trust. Joy is connection to the celebration of the presence of Christ. Joy is sacramental.

Because joy is sacramental, it is joy that allows me to stand at the altar and invite the assembly to lift up their hearts without longing with even a part of me to be anywhere else, getting farther ahead, furiously ticking through my unending lists of "to do's" and deadlines. This joy opens me to the possibility of peace that passes understanding, which comes in part through the confession/admission that I daily pursue the emptiness of lots of other kinds of peace.

I vividly remember a Sunday school teacher, somewhere between second and fourth grade, who asked me and the other boys in the class if a couple of us would be willing to help her move a ladder. She had a bad back. Some of the boys looked down at their shoes. Others ran off, pretending not to have heard. Witnessing my abandonment at the hands of my brothers, I raised my head slowly and lifelessly mumbled, "I'll do it. I'll help."

Instead of celebrating a willing volunteer, my teacher scolded me through a beautiful smile. "Oh Jonathan," she beamed, "Don't be so joyful about it."

I smiled, got over myself, and ran to help my friend.

I will forever be grateful for my teacher's insistence that, having resigned myself to obscurity, it is not enough to do the job. Pretty soon, robots will do most of our jobs, anyway. Joy and wonder at the opportunity to live our baptismal covenant, seeking and serving Christ in all persons, beginning with this one, transforms the despair of our invisibility and/or obscurity into the laughter (à la Sarah) of encounter with God, which depends on the God who can be depended on to meet us.

Thanks be to God.

__________



(1)Frequent readers of the blog will know that St. Francis House recently received a beautiful variant of this icon of icons in which Abraham and Sarah are visible. But even this icon, beloved for the picture of friendship with God it depicts, underscores the central point: Abraham and Sarah stand with God, beside God, as servants captured in a snapshot of the guests, while refilling their drinks between courses; a theological photobomb of the one who has opened her life up to God.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Zen of Drip Castles & Seeing God's Work More Like God Sees God's Work


I didn’t discover the goodness of the drip castle until I met my wife, whose family has made annual pilgrimage to the same beach in North Carolina for something like thirty years now. Growing up, my family made biannual visits to Graceland. Different worlds. I’d only ever been to the ocean once. It was fine. But annual beach time was a condition of the marriage, and Rebekah is pretty amazing, so I did the math and signed on. 

Before our first trip, I confessed my discomfort. “But what do y’all do?” Lots of things, Bek told me. “You get up when you want to. Eat breakfast, or not. Go down to the water. Come back up for lunch. Take a nap, if you need one. Go back to the water. Back up for dinner. Back down, if you want. Sleep at some point.”

“Up. Down. Up. Down. Sleep. Repeat.” The whole thing made my evangelical father-in-law’s playful critique of Episcopal liturgy and its up and down movement ring amusingly hollow.

Truthfully, it all sounded great. And a little bit scary.

My brother was diagnosed with skin cancer in his early twenties. At his doctor’s suggestion, I get regular skin examinations and am guarded with my sun time. Don’t get me wrong, I love the outdoors, but the stereotypical beach pleasures that come with laying out in a chair to welcome the golden kiss of the sun are entirely lost on me. No thanks.

On the other hand, I’ve always been a person who enjoys time to be. And the mesmerizing effects of lapping waves and unbroken horizons, compelling in their own right, invite my soul to sing the verses of childhood hymns I'm delighted to discover I havn't forgotten:

Thou art giving and forgiving, 
ever blessing, ever blest, 
well-spiring of the joy of living, 
ocean-depth of happy rest!

and

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
like the wideness of the sea;
there’s a kindness in his justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is welcome for the sinner,
and more graces for the good; 
there is mercy with the Savior;
there is healing in his blood.

Still, I get bored. The ocean can be a fabulous window through which to glimpse the divine but, as the biting flies occasionally remind me, the ocean is most definitely not the divine. 

I am pretty sure my boredom is more a function of my personality than a true judgment of the beach. Onto Rebekah’s blank slate of leisure I am perpetually attempting to organize new things. Among my proposals through the years:
  • Beer and pizza night on the beach
  • Young adult cocktail night on the mainland
  • Turtle conservatory field trips
  • Boardwalk and ice cream dates with the kids (Bek regards “The Boardwalk” as a creation of the devil)
  • Mini-golf in the tourist trap towns
  • Canoeing the marsh
  • Sunday worship with the Methodists (a guilty pleasure)
I should add that Rebekah has graciously indulged some (though not all) of these proposals along the way. And I have learned to follow her lead, too. I’ve even developed a surprising and genuine appreciation for long walks on the beach. 

Enter the drip castle. For all of our beach-born compromises through the years, the drip castle is for us a rare activity of mutual enjoyment. Drip castles are both activity and non-activity. Business and stillness. Structure and whimsy. Striving and surrender. 

It’s all very Zen.

Drip castles have just a few basic parts: the base, the pool, the buttresses and spires. There is a definite method. And there is absolute contingency. Improvisation and detachment are essential. A light touch, steady hand, and precision will yield dividends to the one who would build her spire to the sky. And the spire you were sure would be the castle's crown jewel will inevitably lose strength and collapse, falling back into the base. Every. Single. Time. If the spire doesn't fall
  • you weren't trying to build high enough, and/or
  • the tide will erase it in time.
From the beginning, drip castles have been a reassuring picture of both a) ordained ministry and b) the aspirations of the Christian community for me: progress comes with the help of water and a light and steady hand, in the simplicity of showing up in and for rhythms of worship, mission, love, and action over and over and over again, no matter what became of where I thought we were going or supposed to do next.

In the drip castle picture, the spire's inevitable fall harkens to Bonhöffer's caution and encouragement that
Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial. God hates this wishful dreaming because it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. Those who dream of this idolized community demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands set up by their own law, and judge one another and God accordingly. It is not we who build. Christ builds the church. Whoever is mindful to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it, for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess he builds. We must proclaim, he builds. We must pray to him, and he will build. We do not know his plan. We cannot see whether he is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are the times of collapse are for him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point are great times for the church are times when it's pulled down. It is a great comfort which Jesus gives to his church. You confess, preach, bear witness to me, and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is not your providence. Do what is given to you, and do it well, and you will have done enough.... Live together in the forgiveness of your sins. Forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.
Bonhöffer's words rightfully refocus Christians as we make idols of the spires of our best reads on God's work; best reads slowly elevated above to the simple work of daily drips, the stuff that matters - what Bonhöffer identifies as the work of forgiveness. In truth, the collapse of spires makes, in time, a much broader foundation for supporting the castle than most castles have at the start, which is to say that the lasting structure is made greater and more honest through our disappointments, weaknesses, failings, and openness to new possibilities and change. It's also to say that the Kingdom is not ours to build. In familiar words first spoken by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw,
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. 
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the masterbuilder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
The most surprising thing to me about drip castles is how the drips whose significance I am inclined to dismiss really do add up. Yes, only rarely as I imagined and, yes, even then never for very long. But then I look up and nothing was wasted. It's all very surprising. A friend recently shared with me that “clergy overestimate what God can do through them in a year and underestimate what God will do through them in five.” I take this to be a great reminder that the work that is God's work - even that part of God's work in which we are already engaged - is difficult to rightly see in the moment.

In December, I will have been ordained for ten years. I have seen and served churches whose spires seemed impeccable. I have seen other congregations carry with trembling the terror that their spires will one day fall. I have seen the unpredictability of Christian community threaten the intelligibility of, and church's confidence in, words like "legacy" and "lasting impact," for lay persons and clergy alike. Where "legacy" means "a guarantee for the future," legacy becomes exposed for an empty, impossible promise. For one season, so much is accomplished. In the next, so much appears to be lost. Then, the sprout from a stump that no one saw coming. Rarely does the progress look linear, although the promise of linear progress provides fine hooks for our egos.

I don't mean to suggest that the contingency of the church gives us no confidence for how to "rightly" live and move and order our common life, but contingency frees us from our illusions that we do not, in the end, need God. Or that God is not the primary agent when we talk about God's love and mission in the world. So the common order worth pursuing a) leans into God and b) opens us daily, even in each moment, to the presence, movement, and leading of the Spirit here and now, where we discover and give thanks that God in Christ has, indeed, given us enough for today.

Thus my gratitude for the tide, that great and final challenge to my daily, stubborn assertions that there are more important things to do than worship, serve, forgive, and be forgiven. The tide challenges our imagination for what counts and is real, giving us eyes and ears to see and hear the Good News proclaimed through the example and witness of communities like L'Arche.

That Good News, of course, is that God has not left us, doomed, to our sad and desperate attempts to remember ourselves, but rather


There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
like the wideness of the sea;
there’s a kindness in his justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is welcome for the sinner,
and more graces for the good; 
there is mercy with the Savior;
there is healing in his blood.

There is no place where earth's sorrows
are more felt than in heaven;
there is no place where earth's failings
have such kind judgment given.
There is plentiful redemption
in the blood that has been shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the Head.

For the love of God is broader
than the measure of the mind;
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful,
we should take him at his word;
and our life would be thanksgiving
for the goodness of the Lord.







Tuesday, May 24, 2016

On the Congregation Whose Members will be Buried in Twenty Years


"In the next twenty years, ninety-five percent of my congregation will be buried."

The first time a colleague said this to me, I felt the total weight of her burden, coupled with an existential, ecclesial dread. To be sure, to the extent that my colleague's comment reflects the church-at-large's ongoing failure to sacrificially invest in and relationally connect with young adults, I continue to carry some of her broken heart in my work as a campus minister. 

Gradually, however, the sting of my colleague's words began to wear off. My undergraduate work was in economics, and economists are always testing this or that truth with previously unspoken extremes, hopping aboard an asymptote and riding graphs into infinity. So my economist brain tried on this exaggerated version of my colleague's truth:

"In the next one hundred and fifty years, one hundred percent of my congregation will be buried, myself included."

Duh. Yes. Of course. Thus has it always been.

Thank God for resurrection hope! 

And mission. Thank God for mission. None of us was with them when the women got up early on that first, pre-dawn Easter morning. But the women left the empty tomb for Galilee. That same day, they told some others. Who told some others. Who loved their Lord and the world he loved and went out and told some others. Who told some others. Who shared potlucks together. And sometimes brews. And told some others. Who built schools together. Hospitals, too. They learned patience together. And told some others. They grew in self-giving, generosity, and lovingkindness together and then told some others.  Some of them told others who already knew, and so the telling became a kind of healing, a meeting and realigning with the reconciling purposes of God. They kept telling others. Kept loving others. Kept blessing others. Kept relying on their Lord's forgiveness and mercy when they messed up and failed the ones they went out to tell. But, even in failure, they kept telling others. They communicated the Good News of God's love in Christ with words and actions and living parables. Some of them told others who, in turn, opened their lives in love and spoke that love to you. The telling never goes out of season, never stops being the work of the people called Church.

After four years living the university rhythm, welcoming students and saying goodbye, my colleague's comment now feels downright luxurious to me. A student spends an average of two-and-a-half years as a member of St. Francis House. I've witnessed more than fifty regularly committed students share in the life of SFH in less than four years, but never all at once. We discover community afresh each semester. Students graduate. Study abroad. Transfer schools. Move back home. Discover Zombies vs. Humans. Something. Every semester, every week, every day is new. So every semester, every week, every Sunday gathered around the table, breaking the bread and share the cup - and all the other days between them - never stops being about the good work of welcoming, building community, discerning leadership, serving others, and proactively engaging in mission. We introduce ourselves each Sunday.

Of course, we grow and develop, but growing and developing does not mean advancing to a level of being God's people that does not, daily, involve all of these things.

Just like in parishes.

Almost like parishes. I guess the biggest difference is that, most of the time, when someone leaves St. Francis House the occasion is graduation. By contrast, my friend made her comment because she anticipated the deaths of Christians in her community. The Burial Office, for Christians, is maybe the ultimate graduation, but there is a deep sense of pain and grief and loss. There is pain and grief and loss also when a student graduates into an uncertain future, but there is still the overriding sense that this thing has happened because all has gone well. Even held by resurrection hope, it is hard to feel that all has gone well when a loved one dies of cancer or dementia or any number of terrible things that mean so much pain, so many small deaths, along the way.

I understand looking out at a congregation of loved ones and prematurely grieving the loss, in this life, of their love and holy friendships. I do not understand looking at that same impending loss as the loss of the life of the church. To do so feels like giving up on God's movement in the lives of the ones we haven't met; feels like tiring of telling others the beautiful things you have seen and known of God. The miracle of the Church's continued existence is the miracle of God's movement in the lives of people and people's movement to meet and tell others about the life of God. 

St. Francis House graduated more students this year than belonged to the entire faith community my first year with the community. A good thing, both the graduations and the growth. I do not know who God will introduce to us in the coming year, but I expect the introductions, because I believe God is moving in the hearts and lives of strangers God would turn into our friends. I expect I will meet God's movement in the lives of others as I learn to move where God is moving, as I grow in vulnerability and, with God's help and this community, communicate the love of God in Christ with words and actions and living parables. 

Is the uncertainty scary? Yes. Is trusting God's movement with vulnerability daunting and even, on some days, more than I signed up for? Absolutely. And yet, I cannot comprehend longing for a Church independent of these rhythms of vulnerability, movement, expectation, and telling. I do not think those who say, "In the next twenty years, ninety-five percent of my congregation will be buried," necessarily long for a Church independent of rhythms of vulnerability, movement, expectation, and telling, but into their grief and existential angst I want to whisper, "Yes, of course. Thus has it always been. The telling never goes out of season, never stops being the work of the people called Church."

It's hard work, but good work, because it is God's work. Shared with us. Thanks be to God.


Monday, May 23, 2016

"Do You Need a Place to Pray?"


Towards the end of last semester, a student walked through the door at St. Francis House and abruptly stopped, standing inside the entryway. Frozen. I was passing through the space, which connects the chapel and the lounge, and stopped myself to introduce myself. "What brings you in today?" I asked him.

His answer expected the question. "I'm not sure why I'm here. My parents are only nominally people of faith. I wasn't raised in it. I don't practice it. Maybe I shouldn't - I don't know why I'm here." He looked up at me.

I considered his answer. Plenty of students come to the Episcopal Center in a given day, for lots of reasons. In an average week, some forty to fifty young people will come by and stay a while for something other than weekly worship. Most will study. Some will spend time on a piano. Others will sneak in a nap before class. The space at SFH hosts a university AA group and another student group that feeds the food insecure in the kitchen downstairs. Plenty of reasons to be here, such that even this student's insecurity set him apart: he was wrestling with faith. He identified SFH not first as a best-kept-secret place of study, but primarily as a place of faith, an identification that both brought him in the door and made him wonder why he did. I asked him, "Do you need a place to pray?" The young man nodded, and I walked him to the chapel.

At St. Francis House, we try to keep an open space with a "no strings" hospitality. You bring yourself, I'll be myself. Come as the Spirit leads and as you find life. No agendas or commitments required in exchange for hot tea. Just the privilege of welcoming a stranger or listening for God with a friend. (1)

"No strings" means that I do not insist on talking about God with everyone who comes through our doors, but "no strings" cannot lead me to ignore the possibility. After all, even the student coming to SFH in search of a coffee spot has knowingly chosen a coffee spot with a free-standing chapel, regularly hosted by a priest.

"Do you need a place to place?"

Several times in the past year, I have encountered Christian leaders, lay and ordained, who have emphasized the non-necessity of regular prayer in the lives of faithful Christians. These leaders have encouraged Christians not to beat themselves up over the absence of a prayer life. Sometimes implied, either directly or indirectly, is the notion that the piety accompanying regular rhythms of prayer is a) not authentic or b) rooted in self-righteous score-keeping.

I want to add my loudest, "Amen!" to the voices that would oppose beating up anyone for the state of their prayer life, but equally to suggest that there may be a reason the person who has been so accosted by the shame-wielders of the faith is still within shouting distance to hear the "Amen!" at all, and that reason likely isn't to be told that pray need not be a possibility or living aspiration for her life. God is moving in the lives of those we meet.

Increasingly, I fear that the reluctance of Christian leaders to open one another and others to prayer  has roots in our own estimation of prayer's value. Many folks believe that, if prayer is worth doing, it is because prayer makes our daily work "better," but faint is the expectation and hope that our daily work would grow our ability to pray. Unfathomably, the suggestion that one's work can become (or double as) one's prayer in the absence of times set aside for prayer has become so popular that it no longer holds the place of well-timed pastoral comfort to the overwhelmed; it is increasingly the normative teaching on prayer. Ironically, such a teaching has no tools for interpreting the lives of Christianity's most remarkable social activists, like Simone Weil and Dorothy Day, both of whom cited surprising rhythms of daily, traditional prayer as essential to the sustainability of their work.

Of course, the pastoral suggestion that faithful Christians need not seek or keep regular rhythms of prayer did not come from nowhere. People of prayer have much for which to repent by our judgments of one another and others, not just whether the others are praying, but how. Enter all manner of liturgical squabble. Indeed, praying Christians through the years have been so harshly judged one another and others that it is now the non-prayers who can be tempted toward self-righteousness, assured in their critical rejection of the failings of the institutional church. Lord, have mercy.

I have no desire to pass judgment on Christians who do or do not keep daily rhythms of prayer. Instead, I hope to challenge the assumptions that lead some Christians to discourage others from exploring daily rhythms of prayer. Above all, I pray Christians can soften their judgements of one another such that we are not directing others from postures of defensiveness.

My Facebook feed today reminded me that three years ago today a handful of SFH students and I arrived on an evacuated cow pasture on the edge of the Badlands with 650 friends, strangers, and the brothers of Taizé, at the invitation of the Lakota people. We spent four days together, learning the depths of the hurts and transgressions that have marked the relationship between the Lakota and the United States. We studied Scripture together, camped in tent villages, shared porta potties, walked down a makeshift staircase, planted in the hill, three times a day, into the Badlands. To pray. Against the hum of an electric generator, we sang our songs and sought God in silence. At the end of the four days, Brother Emile met with the Midwest contingent and shared his prayer for next steps. He did not hope that we would all visit Taizé or start Taizé services in our local communities. He did not voice his hope that we would do in our hometowns what they had done on this scale. Instead, he asked if any lacked for home churches and if any of us prayed outside of our communities with others, daily. This was his prayer.

Engaging a) rhythms in one's own tradition and b) prayer with those outside it seems to me a hopeful beginning toward ending judgments and restoring trust in communities that pray.

I remember the time my good friend asked me to pray the Daily Office with him for a summer. My friend is an evangelical, without any resource like the Prayer Book. He asked me to share my prayers with him. As we prayed that summer, he taught me the evangelical's heart for the intercessory prayer time, for which the prayer book allows but into which good Episcopalians know better than to speak. Neither of us imposed our wills. Both of us shared our hearts. We were both transformed into more than we were before the prayers that filled that summer.

I do think this is a key: not telling one another how to pray, but committing to pray with each other. Not "I will show you how it works," but "I will pray with you," with vulnerability and openness to God and the new thing God would show us in the other, prayerful enactment of the baptismal covenant's conviction that Christ is there to be sought and served in each other.

I pray that all Christians never imagine themselves beyond the position to say, "And show me what God in Christ has shown you," without fear. Even of the life of prayer.

___________________



(1) As a faith community, we talk about an additional truth of "no strings," namely, that being real with one another compels us to name that the more of ourselves we risk bringing into this space of sacrament and holy friendship, the more we will feel and know, together, the fullness of belonging and life lived with God and for others. When you and I both commit and share our gifts and lives around the altar, each of us finds blessing we would not find without the other.

Even in the context of the faith community, where visible commitments are central, the emphasis remains on Jesus, holy friendship, and joy. Never on strings. I hope this open-handed posture means that our leaders feel the freedom both to lead beyond my imagination and to say when they need to pause. I hope this freedom creates space and time for leaders to bring their whole lives along for the ride. I hope that each one's bringing her whole self along for the ride a) makes each one, and all of us, more trusting of God's love and b) brings each one, and all of us, closer to the likeness of Christ.