In Memoriam XV

Dear Garrett,

These fifteen years of conversation have been filled with reflections about my pastoral life. A life that your leaving confirmed, strengthened, and changed. In some ways it was a loss of innocence and idealism, in other ways it was a growing up moment that prepared me for many other heartbreaks, disappointments, and surprises. What is still a bit surprising is that I am still at it. Still gathering, still proclaiming, still leading ritual, still listening to the rhythms of the soul, and still working towards justice.

I have often said that I will walk away from pastoral life only if I feel released to do so. The Spirit called upon me for this work has been hard-headed and I find myself constantly called back to it. Obviously I have not been released yet, though I have had to face the reality that it had to change. The ways In which I lived into this calling had to become more grounded in who I was and the ways that the gospel is life in me. The praxis of pastoring had to express my own circuitous journey of life and faith, my sojourning identity and my rooting hunger. It created a crisis that in some ways was similar to the one I faced at your leaving. Who am I? What am I doing? Why should I continue doing it?

It does not escape me that life is messy, I know messy well. There are some twists and turns of life that we do not expect, it is scary to face those and at times it seems like we will not make it through. These events change us, these moments transform us, and our old selves are hard to even recognize. Your leaving was one of those but it has not been the only one. Flourishing seems so distant at those moments and yet in the midst of transformation there is life. In fact transformation means that we are alive! Change is living, as Octavia Butler reminds us “All that you touch change. All that you change changes you. The only lasting truth is change.”

I recently presided at a funeral and thought of you. Thought that you might have welcomed these beloved ones to the reality that is eternal life. Though it was a very sad situation that momentary thought brought a smile to my face. I could feel you next to me reminding me that I still had good news to share, love to proclaim, and curing of souls to tend. There is so much pain in the world, so much animosity, and so much brokenness . . . good news is needed, healing needed, understanding needed, new life needed! Thank you again for your persistence in companioning me and reminded me of this calling. I love you G, I’ll see you at the Great Feast!

Peace & Love, Juan Carlos+

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