Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!







(Note: The video I embedded doesn't quite match with Blogger; you can watch it here.)

I was a little surprised and, I admit, a little sad to hear New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson's retirement announcement. So to cheer myself up a little, I re-watched his appearance on the Daily Show--I still totally crack up at the chess references early in the vid.

You can read the full text of his retirement announcement on Mark Harris' blog--here is the link.

But I am not ashamed to tell you "I really really admire this guy." What's funny is that my admiration for him really doesn't have anything to do with "teh ghey" except that it is just who he is. It's that I have always sensed when I look at him that we share a common link--the link of the "silent sufferer." It's a link where clergy and physicians intersect in very deep ways. My admiration for him comes from watching the parallels in his journey and mine to become less of a silent sufferer and to learn to offer our troubles to God.

Bishop Gene is the bishop of a small rural diocese in a small church denomination.

I am a part owner of a small rural practice in the second smallest medical specialty. (Only nuclear medicine is smaller than pathology.)

I suspect he knows the parishioners in his diocese by name and face better than bishops in larger dioceses. I imagine he knows their life struggles in a way slightly more intimately than most bishops.

I can tell you, when you read out surgical path specimens in a town of 17,000 vs. one of 170,000, a lot of names cross your desk that you know. I put my signature to the bottom of a lot of surgical path reports that change the lives of people I personally know in a hard way.

I imagine a small diocese like New Hampshire has money woes of a different nature than larger ones.

Believe me, small medical practices have the same problem.

I read his autobiography, and there has been a fair amount of pain in his life that other people might not totally understand.

Me too--just for different reasons.

He was elected Bishop at about the same time I was walking through a tremendous life difficulty--one that had the threat of totally changing my life in the practice of medicine. It was also a time in my life I had not yet re-discovered church, and had not yet joined the fold of the Episcopal church, and the life of Trinity-Kirksville.

Bishop Gene doesn't know it, but he is part of what brought me to the Episcopal church.

Something told me, "Pay attention to this guy. He has something to teach you."

My inner skeptic said, "What? This guy has nothing in common with you."

But as I heard him speak, as I read what he said, as I simply followed him from a distance, I saw he had a relationship with a God I could stand to be around. For much of my life, God was a guy who, when I looked at his face, all I could see was how short I fell in comparison. Bishop Gene talked about a God who loved us no matter what. He talked about a Jesus who was on the fringes of life and brought a radical new way of living to the world. A place where being a little of the radical edge of being in my own world was okay.

Meanwhile, I had two people in my office who constantly pestered me to come to Trinity. Ultimately, they were the two direct forces that caused me to give in and darken a church door on a regular basis for the first time in over 20 years. But a big part of that was I really wanted to see if that God that Bishop Gene talked about could even possibly exist in Kirksville, MO.

I discovered he did. In spades.

I have continued to listen and watch Bishop Gene. I have watched how he has met many challenges in his life and somehow is always still smiling, still appearing to be in the presence of a God I continue to get to know. I am sure he has really hard, hard days in his life. I can see where the burden of "him just bein' him" might feel intolerable at times. I can see how it could affect everyone in his circle of influence. I am absolutely sure he has glaring imperfections that those close to him would like to knock him over the head with a 2x4 at times. I am sure he, on occasion, irks those people, hurts their feelings, drives them nuts. Don't we all.

But I think about the sets of "expectations" other people make for him that he has to constantly choose whether to meet them out of fear, guilt, or shame, or whether to hear the voice of God in his heart and let the "expectations" fend for themselves.

I sit half a continent away, and simply watch and hear how I think he does that, and continue to work on these things in my own way, in my own world. I find myself grateful for "him just bein' him, in the presence of God," because it makes me feel that I can continue to find islands of peace in a violent, hurtful world, by "me just bein' me, in the presence of God." I don't think he's Superman--but I do think he's one of the finest Clark Kents I have ever seen.

I've never met the man. I imagine if I ever did, I'd just sit and say nothing b/c I would be too embarrassed to say one-tenth of what I just blogged. But I thank God for his life just the same.

2 comments:

This is wonderful, Maria. I agree with you about him. He and Bishop Tutu are two of my favorite people.

I hear you, Susan. Bishop Tutu's smile is one that is truly the light of God shining through!

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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