Saturday, June 30, 2012

Love shared, more than words can describe...with kayaks added.

A gift from our parish family...a fabric depiction
 of one of the stained glass windows - with kayaks added. :)
I probably shouldn't publish this post. To be honest, I'm not sure I trust myself to reflect adequately the feeling deep in our hearts these past days and weeks. To do so would require more than words. I will post, however, and trust that the essence of what is there will find its way to the surface in some meaningful and coherent way.

These are emotional days, as we transition from full-time parish ministry into a period of our lives that we are defining as "reconfiguration". The word "retirement" doesn't really fit as we are sure there is much more to come, probably less than full time, in or related to our respective vocations of ministry and social work practice.

Years ago, while serving as a military chaplain on an air force base, I overheard our six-year old son and two of his neighbouring friends talking in the back yard of our home on the base. They were comparing what their fathers did when they went to work. Said one young lad,"My dad's a fighter pilot." To which the other replied, "Yeah, my dad's a pilot too." Our son, offered rather matter-of-factly, "Well, my dad doesn't actually have a job. He's a padre." :)

My son was correct. Despite the fact that I had spent six years in university, undertaken the same basic training, was subject to the same postings both domestic and overseas, worked weeks on end without a day off  (particularly on army postings), and went to the "office" the majority of days in any given week - it never felt like a "job". It was a calling, and it was one that I have deeply loved and cherished for some thirty-six years.

The sun rising over the Southern Gulf Islands,
an arbutus tree and the forested, off-shore islands.
Joan and I decided, nine months ago, that this year would be the time for "reconfiguration". We felt it was important to do this while we were still healthy and able to truly experience and enjoy the self-propelled activities that we write about here. We also knew there was more to come in terms of our vocations, even if the form and context changed. It was a difficult decision as it would mean leaving a parish community that is progressive, inclusive, deeply concerned about and involved in social justice issues, and filled to overflowing with love, laughter, and warm, engaging hospitality. Like everywhere else we've ever lived, the people of this congregational family were easy to love from the very first day...and we will love them forever.

We "paddle on", but a piece of our hearts will always remain.
(We have a spare kayak for any who would like to join us!)
We have been deeply touched by so many whose lives reflect goodness, courage, and selfless concern for others...and I am finding "letting go" difficult. Very difficult. Letting go with grace, however, is essential and it will open the way for new leadership to grow and flourish. I know that will happen.

In the meantime, a very special friend, who has become as a sister to me, has wisely advised us to launch the kayaks - soonest. She knows that in doing so, there will be opportunity, on the ocean, for us to process all that is happening...and at least some of what is to come. She has also made a commitment to invite us to dinner at least once a month for the next three months. As her "older" brother, I'm going to hold her to it. :)

To express the full depth of feeling would require more than words...but perhaps this post and some reflections from the kayak cockpit will be a small beginning, on a journey about to begin.

With gratitude,


The fabric art was created by Joy and Evelyn. We cherish it, thank you both...and thank you all at DUC.


  1. New beginnings, there is so much out there for you both to go and enjoy. We always say "all shall be well" and although you two are going to be missed so very much, I think this time around it will probably be more like "all shall be fantastic". You might even want to say, all your new adventures will be "extraordinary"! Make the most of it and book me in for that spare kayak in a couple of weeks :) L

  2. Dear L,
    This will duly confirm your booking of the spare kayak. Don't you think that "extraordinary" word gets overused just a little! :) D.

  3. Here's to a long, healthy post full-time ministry period and many opportunities of get togethers and bumping into each others!
    It's been an extraordinary week!

  4. Thank you, Cathy. We'll look forward to those opportunities, believe me. There's that "e" word again! :) D.

  5. what a beautiful piece of artwork

    you must have been very much appreciated

    hope to encounter the two of you on the waters around Gabriola some time (while in my kayak…)

  6. Thanks Anon, it is indeed a lovely work of art. If you see a couple of yellow kayaks on the water, it'll probably be us so we'll look forward to seeing you out there sometime. Thanks so much for coming by. Duncan.

  7. What a beautiful post. I just dropped by to see if you were able to get on the water this weekend, and am thrilled that you did. Now as you go into reconfiguration, it's like a baby learning to walk, small steps, so you make sure it's what you both want to do. Hope there is room for some travelling and sight seeing, which is long overdue. We will miss you more than words can say, but will hold you in our hearts. Much Love.

  8. Thank you, J, what a thoughtful note. Yes, in fact we've just come in from a day on the water and will post a few pics later. Small steps is right! By 8 am Sunday, I was fit to be tied! That means I'd made it 8 hours into "reconfiguration" before I asked Joan what we were going to do next! She's being very patient. :) See you soon. D.

  9. Happy Reconfiguration!! Beautiful piece of art (and more than). What a fitting piece to remember years of serving with and for the community and nation.

    Congratulations on Chapter 1!

  10. Thanks so much for that, Lee. What this probably means is that I'll become even more annoying to even more folks until I can figure out what to do with Chapter 2! Haha. "Talk" to you soon. Duncan,