Cathedral News, October 1, 2017


I believe that everywhere you visit, you leave a little bit of yourself there. Another way to say that, certainly, is that every place you visit leaves an impression upon you. I suppose it’s the romantic in me, philosophically speaking, that prefers to understand this belief in the former manner. I can close my eyes and walk through every house in which I’ve ever lived; there’s a part of me that is unalterably connected to those places. Some years ago, in fact, Alexandra and I stopped by the first house that my parents owned in Norman. As we drove up, I intended only to view the house from the outside. A friendly woman in the front yard said “hello,” and I told her that I had lived there as a child. Graciously, she invited us to come in and have a look around. I don’t believe in ghosts, and never have, but I met my childhood self in each room as I walked through the house, particularly in the kitchen, where I spent hours with my mom as she cooked our meals. That same sort of experience has been mine many, many times as I’ve returned to places I’ve been before.

There will be a part of myself that I will leave here at St. John’s when I end my time as your Dean. It has been so in each parish I’ve had the privilege to serve. When I visit Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati, memories of so many services, activities, and people come flooding back into my heart, particularly of my late friend, Dean Jim Leo. James and Alexandra were both baptized at Trinity Church in Hamilton, Ohio, and so that space is particularly alive with the footprints of my years there. Sadly, I’ve not been able to return to Trinity Church in Myrtle Beach, because of the tragic schism that was initiated by Bishop Mark Lawrence, leading to the withdrawal of Trinity from the Episcopal Church. Soon, however, as the courts decide in favor of the Episcopal Church, I pray that I’ll be able to be in that space once again, and remember. Even now, in these last weeks as Dean, each time I stand at the Altar or in the pulpit, as I sit in the pews during the day and pray, recollections fill my mind, and I’m thankful for them. Hundreds and thousands of people have prayed, worshipped, sang, wept, rejoiced and worked in this place, and all of us leave a part of ourselves here when we go, contributing to the holiness and beauty of this Cathedral.

Often, it is faces that I recall most vividly, or voices. Many saints have passed from this life into the next during my time with you, and I can still see them in their accustomed seats in the Nave. Each of them have left an imprint upon me, upon us, and I’m grateful for that blessing. Jackie Schlegel, Ken Rasmussen, Homer and Kate Musgrave, Bill Bayne, George and Marge Dixon, Jerald Hamilton, Bob Seamon, Jay Jarpe, Pam McClain, Mary Daniels, Bob Lalicker, Ned Ross, George Hight, Tom and Barbara Strome, Susan Butler, Lena Bailey, Lou St. John, Cissy Bartlett, Al Tarbell, Charlie O’Hara, Vi Miller, Bob Wertheim, Bob Taichert, Terence St. Louis, Thelma Wilson, Ruth Miksovic, Fred Myers, Ash Collins, Monica Tull, Jean Kadey, Ann Lovekin, Mary Lee Sparks, Roy Farmer, Murl Moore, Fred Blottner, John Cory, all of these have died during my time here, along with many others. A priest carries on his heart those who have gone before while he helps tend that part of the vineyard.

I noted above that Alexandra and James were baptized at Trinity Church in Hamilton, Ohio. They were both confirmed here at St. John’s Cathedral, an important step in one’s maturing as a Christian. This place is deeply ingrained in our lives, my family, as we all have grown much as we have ministered among you, and with you.

As I have said, it is my hope and prayer that, after your new Dean has been in place for a time, we will return to worship with you and involve ourselves in a new way in the life of this Cathedral. So, the memories that I take from here will remain with me, and the part of myself that I leave here will add to the myriad saints who have called St. John’s home. Someday, in the not too distant future, I’ll meet my younger self as I pray, worship, sing, and work here once again, not as your Dean, but as a fellow disciple in the kingdom.

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