Being present

You have probably been told that first impressions are very important, or, that we need to consider the consequences of first impressions. I defy the advice. Indeed we should not be preoccupied with making impressions, first or otherwise, because such attempts defeat authenticity. Yes, impressions are burdensome, external and imposed. I learn to be conscious and find inner meaning and the challenge they pose.

When I sent an e-mail to my colleagues in the Mission & Outreach Committee of Christ Church Cathedral to inform them of my intended departure, I received some responses and reflections. Here is one that reminded me of first impressions even though I too was not paying attention to the moment that left such an impression on Dave.

    Dear Joel,

I will miss you along with your quiet manner, steadfast faith and true humility. I will miss seeing you with a pitcher of lemonade and a pitcher of iced tea in each hand serving our friends at the 5000 Club. I will miss seeing you at the Wednesday or Friday noon Eucharist service because you had been serving Sunday at the City Gospel Mission.

I once heard a man say ” I learned from my father the value of hard work and ambition and maybe a little something about telling a story.”  Joel, you are living a story of an ambition to follow Christ.

Once a few years ago when we were both preparing for the Tuesday Evening prayer service, I was suggesting to you your role near the end of the service. In my typical fast paced fashion, I whipped through describing the service and said (referring to the homily and prayers) ” and after this other stuff…” you chuckled and commented ” other stuff?”  In your gentle way, you reminded me of the value of being present in the Liturgy and of God’s patient love. Your cheerful spirit that carries you forward is more than a disposition, it is the optimism of a faithful soul, trusting in God’s idea of us.

Thank you Joel for your presence and good luck to you on the next leg of your journey.