“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” ~Jeremiah 29: 11-13
Do you like surprises? I generally like surprises, specially if they bring automatic joy. Sometimes surprises bring uncertainty and shock. That’s kind of what my Saturday was like.
I got an email on Thursday afternoon that there would be an URGENT Executive Session of the Vestry this Saturday. Now, I should preface that this is my third and final year on Vestry, and this has never happened before. There was no other explanation, just a sense of urgency to be at the meeting. I have to tell you, this left me with some anxiety regarding what this meeting would be about.
I would like to tell you about my rector and priest at Church of the Holy Nativity, The Rev. Aimee Eyer-Delevett. Yes, you can click on the link and her bio will appear, but that is not the same as hearing personal stories. The first time I met Rev. Aimee in the Fall of 2007, I was trying sneak in to this little church that kept compelling me to “check it out” after I had moved to the area. I tried to sneak in, but there is really no place to sneak in this church. I did my best and sat in the middle near an elderly couple. As the processional started, I noticed the priest was walking in, in sneakers. Wow, I thought, this is a really casual church. Now after the service, the lady next to me put her arm through mine and asked if I would have a cup of coffee with her. Now remember, I was trying to sneak in and sneak out…but who am I to tell sweet little Harriet, no? Needless to say, I found myself sitting down to a cup of coffee. As I sat people started sitting with me and introducing themselves and next thing I knew Adult Formation was starting. (I can’t just get up and walk out in the middle of a “talk!”….I thought) Well, so I stayed. As I listened to the speaker, I realized she was familiar. So I kept staring and staring until I placed her. I had taken care of her before in the Cardiac ICU. She looked great! She was thriving! Suddenly it dawned on me, connections, God brought me here. I was already connected in so many ways to the body (the people) of this church. Oh, and that strange priest that led the service in her sneakers…she was prepared for Crop Walk Sunday! This was the beginning on my journey with CHN or Church of the Holy Nativity.
Through the years, as you might imagine, I’ve gotten to know Rev. Aimee so much more and on a much deeper level. Not only is she my priest, but she is also my friend. She has listened to my hopes, my fears, my struggles and has been there for the joys. She provided my husband and I marriage counseling before our marriage. She married us. She blessed my womb before my first IVF and embryo transfer (that so many knew nothing about), and anointed me with oil. What is special about Rev. Aimee, is that not only did she listen to my joys, challenges and hurts, but she shared hers as well. Most certainly not all of them, but there is a vulnerability and authenticity that just exudes from her spirit.
Saturday morning, I found out that Rev. Aimee will be taking leave from her position at CHN as rector. October 26th will be her last day with us. She received a call from All Saints by the Sea in Montecito, CA to be their rector and accepted the call. This is the letter that just went out to the parish (CHN). We are so sad, but also know that God is working through Rev. Aimee, and that in our sorrow there is also hope. Hope for us at CHN, but also hope for those at All Saints by the Sea. As I said to Rev. Aimee, “I can only wish for you to grow and share your leadership, love and compassion to those who need you.” Godspeed my dear, dear friend. Know that you will be taking a piece of my heart with you, just as you are leaving a piece of yours.