Last Week in the Pac NW

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…

Published by Wayne Park

Asian-American clergyman thinking about issues of faith, place, race and culture-making in the vast city of Houston, TX

5 thoughts on “Last Week in the Pac NW

  1. Wayne,
    I don’t think you will ever really know how much of an impact you had on me and my time at Western. You and Ashley were always so welcoming to me.

    You helped guide me along in my spiritual journey during a difficult time in my life. Your impact on me will last a lifetime.

    Who could forget all of the basketball games and Halo matches as well.

    Best of luck to you guys in Houston. I know you will continue to do amazing things.

    -Mike Lombard

    1. Mike – you are a sweet guy and it was sad to see you graduate so soon – that’s the nature of campus ministry :)
      Blessings on you brother in your new academic endeavors and let’s keep in touch..

  2. The birth of both your children, a beer on the deck and planting your front yard and teaching you what a weed looks like. Of course all my words of wisdom.

  3. Pastor Wayne,
    There are seasons for everything in your life. God provided you PacificNW for the past ten years to grow spiritually and to start your family. Like Abraham, he has commanded you to go. God wants us to rely on him completely. Then we will find true peace and feel his grace and mercy. Welcome to Houston. Now it’s time for you to lead.

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