Stepping New into the Garden

Flowers in a suitcase by Andre Glechikoff 2013 Flickr CC BY-SA 2
Flowers in a suitcase by Andre Glechikoff 2013 Flickr CC BY-SA 2

I have moved a lot in my life. My parents not only moved towns, they moved continents. When I was a child we moved from England to Canada to the US and before I started high school I had lived Heswall, Ottawa, Toronto, San Diego, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.

I remember only small instances of these moves. I remember driving long stretches of road from Ottawa through Maine. I remember running through the arched doorways of the homes for sale we toured in Phoenix, Az., and I remember the home we purchased had a gigantic saguaro cactus in the front! I remember the summers on the patio by the pool in San Diego. And I remember the first time I laid eyes on Los Angeles. It was just a brown smog bubble ahead of us on the freeway, and I remember thinking, ‘We’re going to live in that?’

I have moved less since then. In the 30 years my husband and I have been married, we have moved only twice. And I have lived in beautiful Camas over 20 years, far longer than I have lived anywhere else.

Saguaros by Kevin Schraer Flickr 2014 CC BY-NC 2.0
Saguaros by Kevin Schraer Flickr 2014 CC BY-NC 2.0

I am going to miss it. I will miss the blue spruces that push new needles out towards the sun when it finally decides to shine. I will miss the rhododendrons! When God made rhodies I know they were made especially for this place where bloom after bloom rises with the elevation every year in every color and in every size.

Each move when reflected on during the season of Easter makes me think of the rising and falling cycles of life. Even Jesus lived according to these cycles, being born in his time, growing from an infant to a boy to a man, then claiming his place in the world, and living into his call—even to the cross. He traveled from place to place first as a man and then by the Spirit that the world may know God.

Each move holds such a cycle to for reflection. From the newness of a place, to its realization, to at last the step away to leave it empty. But. As in the case of Eastertime, when Jesus steps from the tomb, he steps not into nothingness but into the new garden. There, he comforts Mary who is weeping and offers her a brand new way of seeing God.

In every change there is this cycle, of letting in, of letting live, of letting go. Thank you for letting me in to your lives, your homes, your dreams, and your hearts. Thank you for our path together. We did the work that is the Way, the Truth, and the Life of this good church! And, blessings to you now during this time of letting go. We will both soon step into new gardens, where new things are being born by the Spirit for the hope of all.

At The House Across The Street by KaCey97078 Flickr 2013 CC BY-NC 2.0
At The House Across The Street by KaCey97078 Flickr 2013 CC BY-NC 2.0

I will miss our home here with the creeks and rivers and evergreens. I will miss our darling downtown and the optimism that is infectious here. And I will miss with all my heart our beloved and courageous Camas United Methodist Church. It was my great honor to serve at the Camas church for these almost four years. In that time we have done so much, we have worked in earnest and in great hope paving the path of our Camas future.

In United Methodism, pastoral elders pledge to be itinerant. This means they recognize themselves as just one small part of the many things that God has set in motion all around them. At my ordination I pledged serve where the Bishop and Cabinet were in need of me. And for a while, that place was Camas.

As of July first, I will begin a new appointment serving the people and community of Ashland United Methodist Church in Ashland, Oregon. I have been to see the Ashland church and to meet some of her good folks. I have seen and heard about the real and good ministry they are doing there. What a blessing they are. It will be an honor to serve there.

Over these remaining weeks, as we wrap up our time together and say our goodbyes, I hope you will forgive me for all the ways and times I have come up short. Know that I love and forgive all of you, in turn. I hold only hope and care within my heart for each of you. I do not carry regrets or disappointments. If those exist I will lay them in the tomb for resurrection. I hope you, in turn, will do the same. As we all step new into the garden, I pray every blessing on the future ministry of this good place.

Blessings to each of you and all of you,

Pastor Richenda