It was October, I remember.
My wife and I had decided that, in the absence of a regular spiritual community and with the desire to worship in a multicultural congregation, we would go to the Dupont Circle Friends Meeting. The Quakers had welcomed us before. We had attended Quaker Meetings back in my hometown, in Morgantown, and in suburban Maryland.
It was 9:10, but the Meeting started at 9:15.
We were going to be late.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I cannot go late to a Friends Meeting. You open the door – creeeeeeeeeeak. You look around nervously for a seat. You shuffle–shuffleshuffleshuffle—down the pew. And all in the patient, loving, waiting silence of the Meeting. No.
It could not be borne. We were just going to have to forego church for that day.
But then my wife said, “Look! It’s All Souls Unitarian church! I’ve heard of them, and their service doesn’t start until 9:30.”
So began the lovefest that was my time with All Souls, my home church in the UU tradition.
The fundraising pitch.
It was all just what I needed at that time.
It was a little “churchy” for my Pagan self, but there were other parts of me getting spoken to. Parts that had been lonely on the hilltop by the Stones.
I cried. I learned later that many people cry when they first come to All Souls in DC. It’s a thing.
So from 2008 to 2013, I worshiped nearly every Sunday in the Unitarian Universalist community of All Souls.
It became so important to me that I eventually decided to go to seminary and become a UU minister myself. I was drawn to the work, so drawn to the theological, political, and emotional aspects of that work.
So seminary it was.
I spent from 2010 to 2013 at Wesley Theological Seminary, learning all I could and loving nearly every minute of it.
I find now, after a year-long internship in a congregation I loved…
I find now, after a brutally difficult search for a congregational position…
I find now, after having met all the requirements to be a congregational minister…
That perhaps I am not called primarily to the congregation.
While I intend to be ordained, I believe that you dear ones, are those I am called to minister to. Because, after all…
…can the congregation hold me?
Have I been traveling all this time from institution to institution, just thinking I needed to find the right one, when what was going on is that my ministry needs to be outside the walls?
Outside the walls.
And so everything I have learned in my travels…much of what you have read here and much more for which there is not space…
Everything I have, I bring to you.
Everything I am and know and can use as a tool for spiritual deepening is at your disposal.
The things I learned at the places I’ve mentioned.
And the things I learned with the Sisters of St. Joseph.
The things I learned with the ile of Babalaw’o Eloy Hernandez Oturo Nico.
The things I learned in the Pentecostal church that summer in high school.
All these things have come together in one of those great swimming holes that rivers have. A place for gathering, for growing, and perhaps for resting along the way.
Join me for a swim?