Just a few days ago I found myself sailing our little boat up the northern edge of Pacific Grove between the Hopkins Marine Lab and Lovers Point. The sun was getting low in the sky and the clouds over the Monterey Peninsula were backlit by shards of light. The mountains back toward Salinas were still light green from the recent rains but I knew that soon they would be taking on the golden hue of summer. A squadron of pelicans soared by, just inches off the water, barely moving their wings. As I gazed in their direction and at the rocky shore behind them, I noticed a little spire of a church beyond a stand of eucalyptus and pines. I realized that I was looking at the spire of St. Mary’s by-the-Sea.
Seeing the church from this angle gave me an image and an insight that I will not forget. I felt both a sense of belonging to a particular community in a particular place at a particular time – while at the same time noticing the undeniable fact that this little church exists in the midst of a complex web of life and interconnectedness that is hard to quantify and yet is obviously true.
It was two years ago this month that I accepted the call to be your next rector. I remember writing a letter to you sharing in the delightful news that soon my family and I would be driving across the continent to join you in this lovely church by the sea. It was a windy day and the windows were open. I remember thinking that the coast of Maine and the coast of California were actually very near to each other in that moment. The dancing wind was like a warm introduction between new friends.
I cannot help in this season of Pentecost to marvel at how the Holy Spirit moves in our lives. Metaphorically, the Spirit has been compared to tongues of communication that allow people to speak and understand each other in new ways. Sometimes it is described as flames of transformation that catalyze new creations and movements. But mostly the Holy Spirit is compared to wind. The wind blows where it will. It can seem unpredictable – and indeed sometimes is. But this wind is literally the breath in which we all share our being.
These last two years we have shared our being in this lovely place perched near the edge of the continent by the world’s largest ocean. I have been blessed to be your rector at this particular time on our history. It has been a transformational time, sometimes gentle and sometimes wavy. I have cherished your warmth and friendship as I have been honored to help lead this church into a new age and a new chapter. My departure to the other side of those mountains has sooner than any one of us planned for or imagined, but I have come to believe that there are blessings in our shared time together that we haven’t even realized yet.
May we love together in that truth – each of us – wherever we may be – in the Spirit of Peace that passes all understanding.
May God bless each and every one of you and St. Mary’s by-the-Sea.