This year, after nearly 20 years as both an faculty member and an academic administrator, I am on my first-ever academic leave and, as readers of the blog know, I am working my book on suffering and grace. But two months ago I was contacted and asked if I would consider spending my time in Nashville as the interim rector of St. Bartholomew’s. After an interview process, the vestry decided to extend the call and I accepted. It has been a very quick and hectic 6 weeks, but I have to say, Nashville is a very fun city and St. B’s is a wonderful and unique community.
As I said, Nashville is an amazing city. In my first week I was able to go see one of my former Schreyer Honors College Scholar Cassandra Sotos perform (in the classic honky tonk Tootsies 😉). My niece has moved to the city to open a new (and amazing) restaurant where she is the assistant GM and there is a competitive NHL team (NFL, not so much).
St. B’s itself is a truly unique community that has been very gracious in welcoming me in their time of transition. My two decades of experience as an administrator is proving very useful in this time, as too is my reflection upon grief and growth. It felt more than coincidental that my first Sunday happened to be the only Sunday in our three-year lectionary cycle when Lamentations is read. While I didn’t want to begin my stay as the “grieving priest” it seemed only appropriate that I follow the guidance of the legionary and my sermon (“Lamentations of Healing”) seemed to touch many. I already count so many here as good friends and I am so thankful to know and walk with them in this season.
So I find myself this fall in a beautiful community and city at a unique time for myself, St. B’s and our nation. Two months ago I had no idea that this would be the case, but amazingly enough it seems that this is where I need to be “for just such a time as this.”