We had the wonderful pleasure of seeing an old friend yesterday.
Jeff and I met Gene Robinson on the weekend before Thanksgiving in 1985. In fact, we met each other that same weekend. Twenty three years ago.
The National Episcopal Church holds a huge Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) every three years. About 25 people are invited to be on the Design Team for the event and they spend about two years planning the location, workshops, special programs, worship, music, schedule and theme for the event. The Design Team includes clergy, adult lay people and high school students. (Isn't it great to actually invite kids to plan an event for kids?!) Jeff and I had the privilege to be youth representatives on the Design Team that planned the 1987 EYE. Gene was also a member of the Design Team.
The experience of being on the EYE Design Team is one of the most formative in my life... and not just because I met my best friend, partner, husband and father of my wonderful kids. I learned so much about leadership and ministry in the church, about working with large groups and building consensus, about travel and independence. I learned how big and diverse our church is and yet it is small enough to really make connections among God's people. Since then, Gene has been "swept to the center by God." Bishop Robinson is many things to many people. To me, he is a gentle, supportive priest who acknowledged me and my gifts when I was just a teenager. He helped me along my journey and I am so happy to have shared a few more steps with him yesterday.
We made many other wonderful connections at St. Thomas. The parishioners were so enthusiastic, warm and welcoming. Plus, they put on a most excellent pot luck lunch. Gene spoke after lunch and talked about many of the things going in in the Episcopal Church. He is a man of great wisdom, humility and faith. Jeff and I are filled with hope for our Church. It's not just hope, it is the absolute certainty that God raises all of God's people to the new life of grace.
But wait... there's more! St. Thomas has an amazing Community Garden. The kids wanted to check it out and one of the gardeners sent us home with tiny tomatoes, ornamental peppers, sage (I am totally using that fresh sage for stuffing on Thursday.), basil...
rosemary and marigolds. (I was happy to add them to the paper whites forcing on the kitchen table.)
Really, we came home with much more.