Where do I start to summarize my last week of ten years in the Pacific NW?
Ten years is a long time, and full of particularities. So maybe I’ll wax reflective on the “Pac NW” as a generality; Lord knows there are many people and organizations to personally thank and I hope to do so to all, respectively. But consider this a closing love letter to the Pacific NW, as a “place”, as a period of my life, as a sea of faces I have come to know and love, as a season, as an experience.
The End of Sadness
Growing up in New York I periodically (every few years or so) suffered bouts with depression. I have my theories as to why, but none conclusive; so when I decided to “relocate” to Seattle as a single man in 2000, people warned me about the weather and my propensity for melancholy. I dived in head-first and since 1998 haven’t had a bout with depression since. Sure there’s been intense and really difficult times, moments when I was brought to the brink and could’ve cracked, but somehow the deep physiological plunges never reoccurred. I have my theories as to why, but none conclusive. God did something.
The Beginning of Spirituality
That’s not to say that my previous place was unspiritual; but there’s something about the rarified air and attitude of the Pac NW that just sparked the carburetor of my soul. I have my theory and think Regent has something to do with the atmosphere here, but I’m biased :) I learned an earthy, almost Celtic spirituality here that was less a self-induced nosebleed (read: “intensity”) and more a relaxed assurance combined with deepened awareness. One of the great gifts I received here was Bible Meditation, and it’s made a better preacher out of me.
The (In)completion of Community
That was the big buzzword of my first few years here: community. Everybody from Starbucks to the church to the grunge scene was using it as their own. I was relatively new to it back then and loved the idea; since then it has evolved (for me at least) from a quasi-hippie communitarian idea of actually sharing possessions and living together, to a place where ideals were broken, to a place of mobilizing existing assets in the neighborhood to dignify the people, not create dependencies.
The Process of Growing Up
In the end sometimes I think that my last 10 years of ministry in the Pac NW have been like being thrown in the deep end of the pool and flailing for a long time. Learning to do ministry initially was almost like convincing myself I knew how to swim; thank God for some of the great mentors who took an initiative in showing me the right way: my pastors, seminary profs, and colleagues – some of the best swim instructors I have ever had.
The Best and the Hardest
To date, the last 10 years were hands-down some of the best and some of the hardest years of my life, all packed into ten. Some closing memories: driving up 405 one cool summer evening alone in a new city was exhilarating; living in community with friends the first two years was pure bliss; commuting across the border in intense heat for 7 weeks of “suicide Greek” only to repeat it again next year for “suicide Hebrew” – crazy; struggling to start a family; the pride and joy of hearing my newborn son’s cry; the exasperation of raising tiny, uncontrollable individuals; the grumpiness of driving up the Sea-to-Sky one snowy November only to discover the winter wonderland that is Whistler; the sheer beauty of Bellingham on a perfect summer day (like everyday in the summer) – places like Lake Padden and Taylor Dock are special places for me…
in short, the last ten years have been… orchestral. If you’ve shared any special moments with me / us in the past ten, feel free to remind me here…