Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 - It Was A Year

I tried to think of a good way to blog my end-of-the-year thoughts. While I don't buy into the Most Overrated Holiday Ever, also known as New Year's (see related post), I do like to look back on how the year has gone. And as I look back on this particular year, it's been a pretty eventful one.

As I think back over this year I can pinpoint a few moments that have really stuck with me. I don't think of these in terms of entire events, but points within events. For instance, rather than point to my trip to St. Louis in May as one good moment, I would tend to think of that first few steps into Eden Seminary's chapel and feeling like I'd slipped on a well-worn shoe. It was in that moment that I'd felt like I'd come back home even if I wasn't really home. So while I could remember that entire trip as a good experience, I'd rather point to a specific moment within that experience that in a way captures the entire experience. You see what I mean?

Anyway, I present to you 2007 in a series of moments...

Sitting at the edge of Central Park eating a hot dog. There was something about this moment when I felt connected to the city. I'd watch people entering and leaving the park, people walking their dogs, the carriages, the apartment buildings overlooking the park that reminded me of a Sopranos episode. It was early January and thus probably about 40 degrees outside, but my little group didn't care. It was a transcendent moment where the experience of the city just seemed to engulf me.

Giving my Easter sermon. I won't lie to you...I try to put Something Extra on my Easter sermons. I work harder and think longer about this sermon than any other sermon all year because I know I'll have more ears listening, some of which will be red because that's how their owners were dragged there that morning. So I try to come up with something worth listening to, something that'll be harder to ignore. This year I recounted an experience that I'd had in an Arby's drive-thru where the kids in the car behind me noticed my UCC bumper sticker and tried to shock me by holding up a sign reading "Satan is God." I then launched into a list of some of the things I've experienced in my life that made the thought of being shocked by this sign the most ridiculous notion in the world, and talked about the resurrection being the last thing that would have shocked the disciples. The whole way through, I knew people--even some of the "C & Es"--were connecting.

The afformentioned walk into Eden's chapel. By the time I set out for St. Louis this year, I'd really needed this trip. I'd come off a busy Lent season and the end of confirmation, and I'd been called back from a week's vacation because of a member's death. So by the time I stepped into that familiar space, I'd been craving renewal. Seeing old friends and colleagues in a place where we'd spent so many hours together was just what I needed.

Standing in the Hartford Civic Center with 8000 other people all singing "The Church's One Foundation." This was during the opening worship service for the UCC's General Synod. There was a lot of good stuff at this Synod and I look back on this as a much less tense time than in 2005. But standing and not just hearing, but feeling so many people united in song...that was a clear picture of what the UCC strives to be, albeit imperfectly.

Visiting Grandma on her final day of life. We'd just departed Hartford and decided to swing through New Jersey, where my grandma was in a hospital bed and going downhill. I was able to hold her hand, and whisper a thank-you to her for loving and supporting me, and for putting up with me all those summers I'd spent at her house. She wasn't really able to say much by that point, but she'd squeezed my hand so I knew she'd heard me. The next morning I got the news that she'd died. Not everyone is able to say they could properly say good-bye to a loved one like that, and I'll always be thankful that I could with her.

Awaking early on a Sunday morning with my wife standing over me as she half-whispers the words, "Good morning, Daddy." She'd been grinning ear to ear before leading me into the bathroom to see the test for myself. We made a lot of phone calls that morning. I tried to devise a clever plan to announce it to my congregation. It was no small coincidence that my parents had decided to come out that morning for worship just because. They already knew, but I included them in the gag when I prayed for them during the Prayers of the People, "who will be grandparents next April." I looked out after the prayers were finished, to half the congregation smiling and the other half still trying to figure out what just happened. But that first moment that the two of us shared was one of joy, excitement, and the realization that even then something had changed forever.

Sitting in the Cafe Du Monde sipping The Best Cup of Coffee Ever. I was in the middle of the French Quarter soaking it all in, not wanting to move. The sun was just setting behind the old brick buildings and I'd just enjoyed a beignet absolutely covered in powdered sugar. I'd felt so at ease, like I could melt into the cracks between the cobblestone and become a permanent fixture of the city. This moment was New Orleans for me.

Cancer. This doesn't really have a moment involved, but I have no less than three family members (plus Coffeewife's uncle...I don't think there's a term for his relation to me) who started fighting cancer this year. That's a little uncanny.

So that was 2007. There were many other moments, but these were the big ones. What kinds of moments will 2008 bring? There are a couple big events coming up, so I can count on sharing a few good moments at this time next year. I hope for more than that.