Tuesday, August 18, 2020
In the 1990s, I was confused and hurting. I knew instinctively that I needed a stronger relationship with God, knew I wanted to worship in a formal setting, but I didn't have a church. The congregation I grew up in was a disappointment to me. It seemed dedicated less to the Lord and more to advancing itself. I dropped away, thinking I could pray and worship on my own.
I was lost.
I wandered to the church nearest me. It was not the faith I was raised in, but I felt welcome. I hanged back, sang the hymns,* prayed and felt better. Especially after the sermons. The minister -- a slight, balding man -- was very cerebral. But he kept bringing us back to this: we're part of a congregation, a community, a country and a planet. We have a responsibility to each. In his quiet, low-key way, he struck a chord.
He convinced me to take religious training and formally convert. I loved our talks. He was so brainy and so smart, he helped harness my emotion. He listened to my questions and helped me find my own answers on my own journey. He understood and celebrated my independence. Because he was born gay but raised a Jesuit -- leaving him with his own crisis of faith -- he believed it was vital for each of us to find our own way to celebrate God and serve our fellow man.
He was with our congregation for ten years in all. In 2002, his mother's health took a precipitous turn and he went back to Massachusetts to be near her. I took this very badly. That was childish of me. I hope he knew my petulance was a reflection of how much he'd come to mean to me.
I like my "new" minister well enough. It occurs to me that I've been with my "new" minister for 18 years now, while I was with Rev. Jay only 8. Yet I still think of Rev. Jay as my minister. I always will.
*OK, I admit I lip synch.