30 August 2019


This was a week farewells for me. Last crazy daily commute to and from IC (whew! Deo gratias!!!); last workout on lovely campus of St. John Vianney; last directors' meeting; last sermon and service as Chaplain of the LCMS and Director of Worship. And so it was filled with farewells. Farewells to a bunch of people that I've come to love and treasure. That part was hard, of course. So many valued colleagues and friends. Way too many to name and thank one by one, for I have been inordinately blessed by so many that I fear if I were to attempt to list them all, I would most certainly inadvertently leave out someone who is dear to me. But two that must be mentioned, one briefly and one verbosely (in honor of many an email...). Briefly, my kind and compassionate boss, Pastor Robert Zagore. This man walked into our building with the heart of a pastor for his people and forged his relationship with the Office of National Ministry team in that mold. We have all been blessed by him.

And now with many words: my right-hand, Deaconess Sandra Bowers.

Sandy and I have known each other for so long that it seems like she's always been part of our lives. I still remember the horrid snowstorm where my family been trapped inside for days and we were all at each other's throats. And at a time when surely no sane person would be out and about, a knock at the door. Sandy and Matt with board games to play. I remember I was so exasperated with the kids at the moment that I was anything but gracious. I think I said something along the lines of: "Come on in, if you don't mind a bunch of people ready to kill each other." It was a marvelous evening. Who would drive from Highland to Hamel in snow??? Sandy! When I started at the IC and realized I was in over my head, I began to wonder whether Sandy might not be the answer. She was. In spades. (And that's one of her favorite cards games, by the way). Early on we struck an agreement: she does numbers (budget, spreadsheet stuff) and I do words (writing). We mostly stuck to that and it worked like a charm!

Another way we complimented each others gifts: we discovered through Strength Finders a very curious thing. Yours truly is gifted in but one of the four areas: strategy. Sandy, blessedly, was gifted in several areas, but excelled in execution. I wasn't sure how this worked together at first, but it finally gelled with this: I dream it up, Sandy makes it happen.

I remember feeling absolutely horrible about this at the last Institute. Toward the end, Sandy was working like a mad woman. And it seemed whenever I would try to help, I only got in her way and caused her MORE work. It finally took Kevin (my fellow-voyager in all things Bible) telling me: you do what you do, let her do what she does. All my "help" tended toward the sort of things that made her life more burdened. I learned a valuable lesson: get out of the way. She'll take care of it, and cheerfully do whatever she asks me specifically to do. And don't try offering her what surely (to me) seems a better way to do x or y; invariably I was off base. She'd have to take time to explain why I hadn't thought this through and if we DID x or y, then z or a was going to be likely and undesirable consequence.

Which is just a long winded way of saying I learned to trust her ability to get stuff done and to distrust my own instincts when it came to anything dealing with execution. This is as simple as when I was going to "help" her unwrap the communion ware for convention. And she knew exactly what a disaster that would be, because she knew ahead of time she was going to save every little plastic bubble wrap bag to put them all back in (really! She did too! And so they're all ready to go for next time round)! She gave me a stern lecture about how it would have to be done and I think accomplished her objective of scaring me off elsewhere to work on something different, you know, something with words where I couldn't do too much damage unsupervised.

She has seen us through two Liturgical Institutes and three Synod Conventions now and what a blessing she has been through it all. And that's not even counting the stuff she just makes happen at the IC week by week. Oh, there's chapel today and someone to play and someone to preach the Gospel? Thank Sandy! And how she does it all with such a generous sense of humor (provided I'm not helping her).

So Deaconess Bowers orchestrated my farewell reception at the IC. It could NOT have been more perfect. Cake and punch, right? Well, not with Sandy dreaming things up. For this carnivore there were eggs fried and hardboiled, sausages (fried up in ONM even!), and then bacon. The requisite cake sported a warning as you can see in the pics. It was a hoot and half! Such joy. We all laughed and laughed and she gave me a shirt featuring my food pyramid: chicken, standing on hog, standing on cow. YES. Beautiful flowers for Cindi from Grace. A stunning calligraphy of stanza three of "Lord, Thee I Love." Overwhelming. Thank you Sandy and Barb and all who worked to make the most fun farewell EVER. I am going to miss you all!

No comments: