- I preached three times at the bicentennial celebration of Wingate Baptist Church in North Carolina, a church I served from 1991-2000.
- I went from there to a sermon-planning retreat in South Carolina, where five other Baptist pastors and I planned our preaching for an entire year.
- I went from there to an Episcopal camp and conference center near Houston, Texas, to lead a preaching workshop for a group of newly ordained priests.
- I came back to Richmond in time to preach (twice) on Sunday, dedicate three children, and run with the 10K training team.
I can sum up the events of the week in a few bullet points, but it would take much longer to describe how it felt to step to the pulpit in the sanctuary of Wingate Baptist Church last Saturday night and look out over the beautiful, beaming faces of people I loved and served for nine years. I told them it reminded me of a dream I’d had about heaven once, and it did—almost exactly. Or to describe what it was like to share ideas with five of my closest colleagues as we sat around the living room of a lake house in Greenwood, South Carolina, bundled up in fleece pullovers, taking notes and jabbing our pens in the air for emphasis as the sun went down on a January day. It would take too long to describe that moment when the nervous young Episcopal priest stood in front of our group and told the story of how she learned what ministry was about during a summer on the pediatric intensive care wing of a hospital, as the rest of us swallowed at the lumps in our throats and wiped our eyes. And it would take even longer to describe what it was like to come home to Richmond, finally, and preach to a sanctuary full of people who feel—more and more these days—like family, to catch those winks and nods, those smiles and knowing looks, that can only come after you’ve spent some time together.
It was wonderful.
I will say this: it seems that every time I come back to Richmond from somewhere else I feel a little more at home here, as if you needed to say “I’m home!” out loud a few dozen times in a new place before you really felt it. I’m feeling it, and it feels good, and except for the quick trip I’m taking to Orlando on Wednesday and the drive up to New York at the end of the month to take some things to my daughter,