May 31, 2014
Today I will be installed as the Twenty-third Rector and the Sixth Dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Burlington, Vermont. It is a glorious day here. So many people have worked so hard and traveled so far to make this day the celebration it will no doubt be. It all starts with brass and timpani at 5 pm.
I slept well until about 2:30 AM when my mind suddenly began making the "oh-no" lists--oh no, did I forget to tell Anthony to block off a parking place for the Bishop? oh-no, did we ever find a copy of the diocesan canons? oh-no, do we have enough seats reserved for the presenters, for family friends, for clergy? You know those "oh-no" lists; all we adults have made those lists on various occasions.
I was not willing to start my day at 2:30 AM so eventually I fell back asleep, to later awaken to a messaged video from our four year old granddaughter Penelope shouting, "Congratulations! Congratulations!" It was such a heart felt and enthusiastic greeting (do four year olds greet any other way?) that I just kept playing it over and over. Congratulations! Yes! What a day this is!
I found this photo of now Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby when he was the Dean of the Cathedral in Liverpool. He was jumping down the side of the Cathedral as part of a fund raising event. Just to be clear, I don't plan to do this today--or ever--but I thought it was a perfect photo for how I feel today.
I am excited, delighted, truly overjoyed and I know the music, the flowers, the liturgy, the sermon (thank you, dear Lauren Winner), the reception, all the people present and all those who are not present but praying, are a true blessing to me and to the Cathedral Church of St. Paul.
But the photo also reminds me of the touch of terror I feel in beginning this journey. A great number of people have such complete faith in me, in my leadership, in my vision. There is that little voice inside that says, "Oh gee, I sure hope you don't disappoint everyone, Jeanne!"
And of course I hope I don't. But the good news is that I am not on this journey alone. The Cathedral is an alive and dynamic parish filled with active and committed people of God. They have been doing amazing work long before I arrived. There is also a gifted and dedicated staff, a supportive Diocesan and faith community. Plus I have an amazing family and good friends. There are so many blessings to number.
The best news is that God is the one who holds the rope. God is the one who will prevent my crash and smash, because God is the Creator and I, along with the Cathedral community, have been lovingly invited to be co-creators in this marvelous journey. It is a wonderful invitation.
It is important to realize that all our faith journeys will have ups and downs. It's important to be tethered by a strong rope. There is only one who holds the rope and that is God. My biggest challenge (it always is) will be to remember to enjoy the journey, relish the relationships that come each day, take in the grand view, trust, leap, and joyfully shout WHEEEEEE! That's what I will be shouting inside as the procession begins.