David, it amazes me when I hear stories of people’s reactions to clerical collars. And I guess that’s because I’ve always been around clerics. And have had the pleasure of knowing a few personally. I’m familiar with the demands of the “job,” the responsibilities, and some of what comes with it. And it’s a heavy and enriching burden. I’ve been fortunate enough to call a couple best friends. So I’ve always understood that clergy are people. Now I know there’s a few bad ones out there, but I’ve had the pleasure of not encountering them. Nonetheless, I like to think of them/you as God’s emissaries who are in the spotlight; wonderfully human, not perfect, but always pointing the way to the one who is.
You’ve beautifully encapsulated the throughline in this series (and my memoir, the source for these stories). It’s been a lesson I’ve had to learn, and relearn, grokked in bite-sized chunks at times, and guzzled from a firehose at others. My point is that it’s been and continues to be ongoing. And … idunno … I can’t speak for others, but maybe that’s a part of what we’re supposed to do, learn from our gifts and foibles and embrace all that we are and strive to become all that God’s created us to be. Idunno, maybe once we begin to get a grasp on who we are, then we can move effectively through life, with purpose.
You’ve also unintentionally revealed a spoiler — haha! Well, maybe not a spoiler, but the arc for this series of stories: the reticent beginning, the adapting to circumstances, and the unexpected ending. Which reminds me, I’m overdue for another installment.
I can so empathize with the grief you’re feeling about retirement. When I left the Christmas show, it felt like being adrift at sea, completely untethered from everything I knew. Maybe it would help to think of this period as a time of rest and renewal; a time to exhale and discover who David Montgomery is sans (I threw that word in there just for you) the clerical collar. I don’t know the mind of God, but perhaps you’re being given a respite before your next adventure begins.
We, people, don’t recognize all that we’ve learned or how we’ve grown when change uproots us from all that’s been familiar. That’s usually because the change is a bit of a shock to our system. But after the pain subsides and with a little distance we begin to readjust, get our footing, and unpack the gifts we’ve been given for use in our new vocation.
The peace of the Lord be with you.