So, I moved. I moved a few states south of the state where I grew up and where I have lived most (but not all) of my life. I suppose that I moved for a lot of reasons, but I suppose one of the most compelling ones is that I have have a sense the the Holy Spirit wants me to be here.
The dog and I are here ahead of my husband, who will join us a little later. It has been a rough couple of weeks for both of us, at least in some ways. There was some howling and barking, at first, whenever I left. There has been some Hiding in the Closet and Not Wanting to Go on Walks.
You know, you can't reason with a dog.
And then one day, I came home and she was lying on the bed. I mean, she was really stretched out. She took up almost the whole bed.
In all her life, she never looked so comfortable. It was as if this has always been her place and she belonged here.
She has claimed that space as her own -- at least until I kick her off.
If only it was that easy.
As for myself, I have a couple of roads down, but I know I have a lot to learn, still, both about the community and about the congregation I serve. Two weeks ago, I stepped behind the pulpit in the sanctuary for the first time. This last Sunday, I stood at the altar and lifted the bread and cup. The morning was not without glitches. At the first service, the ushers had to remind me to give them the offering plates. At the second service, I was not quite sure who was doing what during the distribution. But everything came out all right in the end.
When I was getting ready to leave my last congregation, the executive committee asked me if I would do an exit interview with them. I wasn't sure what the purpose of the exit interview would be, but I agreed to get together for an informal question and answer session.
Someone said something there that I had heard before, and never really appreciated. This person said (and I had heard it before) that my sermons and worship presence, while always good, got a lot better after the new senior pastor came. I have never known exactly what to say when someone has said that.
But during the interview, something occurred to me. I realized that what people were naming as "improvement" was simply this: sometime during the time before the new senior pastor arrived, I learned to claim the worship space as my own, to believe that I belonged there, even to stretch out.
Now I am here, in so many ways, in a new space, and the Holy Spirit has called me here. And I realize that what I need to do, in small ways and in large ways, is to learn to claim the space -- not just the sanctuary, but the deserts and mountains and all the yet unknown places.
It is holy ground, not just for me, but for us, together.