Top Ten “Hoosier” Things I Will Miss

Top Ten “Hoosier” Things I Will Miss

We are off to San Diego in August.  Interim lead pastor at San Diego First United Methodist Church, I am nervous and excited.  Well-meaning friends upon hearing these plans say, “Oh, lucky you, it is such a beautiful city with great weather, you are really going to enjoy it.  You will probably get out there and not miss us at all.  You’ll not want to return.”

Well, at this age and stage in life, I know that although my friends mean well, they are both right, AND they are wrong.  Yes, we plan to enjoy San Diego to the full, make new friends, discover great culinary and cultural experiences and share ministry with the good folks.  As much as we are looking forward to this odyssey, we also know that there will be things we will miss.  I have made a list the top ten things I suspect I will miss:

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1. Indiana grown, Non-GMO sweet corn, fresh from the field, available at our GRAND farmer’s market each week.  Yes, I know they have fresh sweet corn in California.  I have lived there, twice, and loved it.  However, nothing brings back my childhood like field fresh corn (along with watermelon).  And, for Elaine, she will miss fresh from the garden Indiana heirloom tomatoes.  Each one of these is “summer candy” and a rare delicacy on hot, humid Indiana days.

 

 

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Winston and Sue Shindell at Christmas 2017

2. We will miss friends made and nurtured over the decades who are a lot wacky and all the more to be loved.  Do they know how to party!  There are dozens of them — we have stood by them in times of joy and sorrow — and they have stood by us.  It is a dangerous thing to start listing Indiana friends — so, I won’t.  It is sufficient to say that Elaine and I would be lost without their laughter, wisdom, patience with my mistakes and willingness to forgive.  And they know too many secrets to allow them to think we wouldn’t return!

 

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Friends at the Amerson’s 4th Annual Trifling Picnic, August 2017

 

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Maria Gonzalez, Bory Colin, Ruben and Isaiah, June 30, 201

Each year we host our annual “Trifling Picnic.”  About 75 to 100 friends normally show up.  Yes, we will host the picnic again this year, just before we head to California.  What is a “Trifling Picnic?  Well, John Wesley counseled that pastors should not be triflingly employed. We offer an opportunity for folks, clergy and lay, Methodist or not to break this rule.

3. We will miss new friends like Maria Gonzelez, Bory Colin, Joshua and Isaiah.  This was the dedication of their new home on June 30th. Monroe County Habitat for Humanity will build and dedicate its 200th home later this summer.  We will miss that and I will miss the wonderful friends I have on the staff and board of this affiliate!

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4.  I will miss colleagues in Ministry.  Pictured here are Revs. Metheny, Mather, Moman and Beck.  We are friends who worked together at Broadway UMC,Indianapolis in the 1980s.  What a team!  What memories!  These colleagues inspire, challenge and allow me to grumble much about the church, particularly our denomination.  They know that I refer to the Indiana Annual Conference as the “Northern Dixie Conference” (with apologies to my southern friends).  Yes, I will miss grumbling about the foolishness of the latest church development techniques while our congregations are hungry for relationships and respect for the gifts they bring.

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5) We will miss the GREAT MUSIC!  In Bloomington, much of it free or very reasonable in cost.  There are literally hundreds of concerts each year at the Jacobs School of Music at I.U.  We recently heard the Student Pops Symphony Orchestra.  It was FIRST RATE.  Over the holiday week there will be a free concert in the park by our friend and marvelous musician Carrie Newcomer.  Then, next week it is violinist Joshua Bell who is in concert on campus.  This fall will be the Lotus music festival we will miss.  And if you are lucky, our friend ,the incomparable, Sylvia McNair will be featured in a fundraiser for a local charity.  Wow… I will miss all of this — and I haven’t mentioned the live theater or the restaurants or performances at the auditorium all in walking distance from our condo!

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6) We will miss cheering for the World Champion Chicago Cubs.  (Hey, I know that was back in 2016 but we waited a century for this win and should be granted a few years to claim to be champions out of respect for the suffering of Cubs fans over the years.)  The Cubbies are looking good in 2018.  We will miss what should be an exciting pennant race at Wrigley Field.  Elaine and our daughter Lydia Murray in picture — the Cubs won that day!

 

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Revs. Mary Beth Morgan and Jimmy Moore, Ash Wednesday, 2017.

 

7)  We will miss our fine pastors, Mary Beth Morgan and Jimmy Moore at St. Marks UMC in Bloomington.  We will miss all of our friends in the congregation as well.  What a great congregation and place filled with fond memories.

 

 

 

 

 

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Judge Sarah Evans Barker, photo from the Indianapolis Monthly

8)  I will miss GREAT HUMAN BEINGS in so many categories: carpenters, plumbers, farmers, janitors, teachers, physicians, service folks, lawyers, barkeeps, administrators, and a few rogue preachers.  I will especially miss our great civic and judicial leaders.  Federal Judge Sarah Evans Barker is among the BEST.  We have many other such fine civic leaders — Mayor John Hamilton and his uncle, retired Congressman Lee Hamilton. 

Indiana also has folks I consider to be less than worthy of admiration (no names please).  However, I will miss working for the election of some good folks to replace them.  We have persons running for election this fall more committed to creating the beloved community than practicing the fear laced demagoguery evident in our national body politic these days.  Some of the demagogues are, sad for me to say, “fellow Hoosiers.”  Hopefully we can offer them a free ticket home from Washington this fall.  Yes, we are keeping our residence in Indiana as our votes are needed here.

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9)  I will miss places like New Harmony a wonderful retreat, place for long walks and great educational experiences.  There are many such places in the state…. Indiana University in Bloomington is one I count as among the best.

 

 

 

AND # 10 on the list?

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Okay, I confess, I am going to miss snow — not the slushy grey-February-type snow.  I will miss the bright snowy days of fall and spring when our streets and fields are festooned with new garments of white.  Such snow is often gone by afternoon or the next day and that is alright with me.  In the meantime — I will enjoy the sunshine of San Diego!

James Cone, Gaye Hudson and Other Difference Makers

James Cone, Gaye Hudson and Other Difference Makers

I have come to understand that there is a rather simple human choice each of us can make.  It is this, will the generosity of a loving God be reflected in our lives?

In the past week two such difference makers for me, died.  Their names, James Cone – renown theologian, faculty member at Union Seminary in NYC and author of ground-breaking work on Black and Liberation theologies, and Gaye Hudson – elementary school teacher, musician and supporter/surrogate parent of students at Indiana University both passed away.

Gaye and James were in many ways different, and yet, in essential ways they were similar.  It is this — though both of them had reasons to live otherwise — they turned toward hope and healing as they lived their lives.

I remember the joy it was for me when James Cone would visit during my time in the administration at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary or when we were attending various academic meetings together.  I would argue that more than any other writer in the last century, James Cone named the racism that constrained and corrupted the church in the United States.  James understood the way all of our institutions, including his own alma mater, Garrett-Evangelical, were diminished by the toxins of racial bigotry and discrimination. 

Still I knew him as a man of hope and… wait for it… JOY.  I can see that smile and loved the ease with which he shared a small laugh, a riddle, a pun, that betrayed an underlying sense of hope.  On more than one occasion, he expanded my ability to see past the fear-filled static and toxins of our society.  Even when his words began in anger, they found their way to the gift of transformation. John Robert McFarland writes meaningfully and beautifully of memories with his seminary  classmate James Cone — the difference maker (see: http://christinwinter.blogspot.com/).

Gaye Hudson was a member of First United Methodist Church in Bloomington, Indiana.  This is a church I served as pastor for almost a decade.  It was, and is, a congregation filled with remarkable folks — few more remarkable than Gaye.  For over thirty years she sang in the choir and for all of this time she was a friend to many.  Hundreds of students knew of Gaye’s care while in school.  She fed them, provided transportation, encouraged them, attended their recitals and on occasion slipped a little extra cash their way.  Some went on to teach; some became opera or recording stars; many were choral conductors, some wrote music and published books — ALL of them were in debt to their “dear friend Gaye.”

Gaye was the choir-mothercaring, challenging, sometimes lovingly disagreeing, anticipating the needs of others, and, yes, difference making.  At her funeral service on April 29th, the choir loft was overflowing with her “children.”  My, my, the music they made in her memory!  I suspect that nowhere in American — or the world for that matter — was music of praise and generosity more gloriously sung than yesterday in that sanctuary.

In a world too full of anger and blame, fear and shame, I give thanks for James Cone and Gaye Hudson, two folks who didn’t know one another, two who knew injustice and burdens, but they knew more, they knew the joy of living with generosity toward others.  I give thanks for these two who make a difference in my life.