Last year around this time I responded to the challenge of the Pastoral Relations Committee to think of creative ways to communicate with the congregation as our congregation members are dispersed throughout a large geographical area and many have professional obligations that keep them very busy.
Since Calvary’s website gets quite a bit of traffic and has been, hands down, the most effective outreach tool we’ve used in recent years, it made sense that the Internet would be a quite effective way to accomplish this goal . . . and thus, a blog was born.
I’m happy to report to the Pastoral Relations Committee one whole year later that I think the goal of additional outreach and connection has been achieved through the vehicle of this blog. However, in the process of following their advice, I got a surprise. I didn’t know when I started last year that writing my blog would be as life-giving, creativity-inspiring and soul-feeding as it has been for me.
In honor of one whole year of blogging here’s a quick look at the year in review . . . a few of my favorites, a few of your favorites . . . some that made me cry, some that made you cry . . . a roadmap of the year from my vantage point.
Here are some of my favorite entries, starting with some reflections on the drama of writing the annual family Christmas letter. (Funny, some things never change, she writes THIS December 6th). This entry about love affairs, and definitely this one about learning to take pictures made my list of favorites. I’ll have to add to my favorites these thoughts on the time I went to jail, and my trip to the morgue, both of which made me think. Hard. And cry.
Some blog entries got (and still get) a lot of attention. I’ll list these as your favorites, as folks still read and comment on them regularly: Real Preachers Wear Stilettos and my thoughts on wearing a clerical robe. Lots of you seemed to connect with this essay about being a mother.
I spent many a blog entry this year writing about things personal, most especially my family, the members of which fill my life with all sorts of emotion and adventure. I wrote about them from the very beginning of my blogging adventure, here, and many times throughout the year. There are some gorgeous pictures of my kids as babies and other cute pictures of them here and here. My other half, known for his stunning good looks as well as the usually wise, always sarcastic and occasionally funny commentary in the background of my life, was also featured this year (though he tries his best to fly beneath the radar). Sometimes I wrote about Mark directly and sometimes I wrote about Mark indirectly (don’t tell him I was really talking about him)! I also wrote about strange, personal subjects, like my coffee maker, my life not being fair and the badge of honor I carry because I am a favorite aunt. You can’t really top this personal revelation: I even told you that I think I might be turning into my mother! I shared lessons I learned from my kids as well as lessons I learned in general. You heard some of my personal pain this year here and here . . . thanks for listening. Katrina, the aftermath, grief and thoughts of friends in New Orleans appeared in various forms on my blog this year, too.
I wrote about what I believe and what I don’t believe, starting with the question of whether or not I believe in God (good place to start, I thought). You read my thoughts on redemption and my conflicted feelings about Jesus loving me. You heard what I thought about war, immigration, and marriage rights and listened to me wonder what I want to be when I grow up. On Maundy Thursday I wrote about falling in love with Jesus; I also happened to notice a parable right in my front yard!
Some of my thoughts raised your hackles, like when I said Jesus is definitely not my boyfriend and recalled the use of handcuffs in church. Some of you didn’t like my reflections on The Da Vinci Code very much, either. (That was all so strange, you know, because everyone is always happy with the pastor . . . ).
The joys and the . . . well, you know, all the many diverse experiences in the life of this pastor, were thoroughly chronicled here with blog entries covering the following riveting topics: my fabulous staff got a few shout outs here and there, along with a couple of talented young interns, Elizabeth and Leah; I wrote about a scary conversation at church–one of many this year, as it turns out; I wrote about Calvary’s future and the challenges of getting there. I was newly convicted this year of the absolute necessity of clergy attention to issues of fashion. Some pastoral experiences this year touched me very deeply, like a birth . . . and a death and a wade into the Potomac River.
And, at the end of the day if I had to name my very favorite blog entry of the year gone by, it would have to be this one, for several reasons. First, it was born in a conversation with my colleague Jim Somerville, a place where, more than most places in my life, very often great ideas are born. I told Jim the story and he told me to write about it. Thanks, Jim. Second, this entry is about a very moving pastoral experience I had with one of my very favorite church members, a lady I love and admire very deeply. Third, this one resonated in a very deep way with a lot of folks who read it; I had many calls, letters, emails and comments about this entry. And fourth . . . and probably most important of all . . . this entry seems to sum up my best way of understanding this world as it see it right now, from right here in this spot: that when we do our best to love God and love each other we very often get surprised . . . by grace.
Thanks be to God.
What a year; thanks for joining me for it.