Thursday, December 31, 2009

These Years of Grace

On this final day of the year, the church's long-standing tradition invites the public sing-along of its great hymn of thanksgiving in gratitude for all the blessings of the months gone by....

Ergo, in one of its more recent settings (lyrics), let's all say thanks for 2009:

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Of course, the tune always sounds rather different 'round these parts:

To one and all, every blessing, gift and joy of the New Year... and to the gang all here at home on 2 Street, for the 111th time, Happy Strut.

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Speaking of the passage of time, the songs of thanks are doubly appropriate in these days.

Your narrator's keen to not make too much of it, but for those of you who might enjoy knowing, last week saw five years since the day when -- on a wing and, er, a brain-fart -- these pages were born with a readership of three... and the rest, as they say, is history... or, closer to home, ontologically deficient history.

If you're thinking "speech," think again -- for one, too little gets done to bask in anything or toot the horn. More to the point, as gold-standard communication goes, nothing can top the heroism, sacrifice and selflessness shown day in and day out, often amid difficult or trying circumstances, by our folks in the trenches -- young and old, right and left, saints and seekers, teachers and workers; married, partnered and single; lay, professed and ordained... in a word, by this church.
And as these pages exist for it (that is, for the lot of us), far be it from just one to hog the spotlight from its rightful place.

See, gang, covering the doings is the easy part; making a song of one's spirit is the harder, more important one. Along these lines, the inspiration and example shown and given by so many of you over these years is a lifetime's gift and challenge -- so to everyone who's blessed the journey and, along the way, touched this scribe's life more than you might realize, all I can justly say here is thanks to the heavens for everything you are and do, and may I know the grace to be more like you with each passing day. And to those of you who've done the legwork of keeping these pages afloat, whether through your prayers, your friendship, your encouragement -- and, of course, your helping hand for the "guitar case" -- just know that, together, we've done something special... and on its better days, something good... I hope.

Bottom line, church: just like these pages, this milestone is more yours than it's mine, so hopefully you get some joy in it -- because on this side of things, all the kindness has just meant more work and pressure, and less time and ability to handle an ever-raising bar. That said, for all the times I haven't measured up to your expectations and trust, I beg your forgiveness and, hopefully, the chance to do better tomorrow. And, again, as the one thing that's been the toughest to bear remains my inability to keep on top of all the notes and all the things to say thanks for, just know how I wish I could let each of you know how this work couldn't exist without you... but this is what happens when there's just one set of hands tending the shop, and a very flawed set at that. So barring a welcome miracle of omnipresence, just know the place you've always got in my mind and heart.

It's been said this space is "influential"... and, well, your narrator'll believe that when he can move out from under his folks' roof. Still, that's never been the name of the game here -- all I've ever shot for, all I ever learned, could fit into three qualities that bridge the gulf between the sacristy and the newsroom: honesty, charity, fidelity.

To be sure, each remains a very rough draft on this end, but thanks to all the kindness, patience, closeness and support you've given through these years, they're a lot better off than when we started... and, with your help, here's to making 'em better still in the years ahead for the sake of the work... and, of course, The Work.

Church, for every grace and gift of an unexpected job and an incredible ride, all thanks to the skies. God love you lot in the New Year and forever more.