With over 100 years of proud tradition, St. Gertrude Parish is located on the northern end of the Edgewater community in the city of Chicago. From our Catholic grade school to resources and assistance to seniors, there is something for everyone at St. Gertrude. "All Are Welcome" to our community. Come see what we are all about this Sunday!
“Look at every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.” ~ Thomas Stoppard
Sunday evening, June 18, 2017, 6pm at the desk in my depressingly disassembled and almost empty office. What is there left for me to say or to write after these past eleven years with you, in this, my final Pastor’s column in the bulletin? Perhaps I should leave this page blank and ride off into the sunset humming “Happy trails to you until we meet again…” (For those under 65, google “Theme song for Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans TV Show.” He was a cowboy who rode a horse name Trigger. Hers was named Buttercup.) But I digress. Or maybe I’m procrastinating. Some words come harder than others because I never failed to appreciate what a humbling privilege it has been for me to share them with you. And this is it.
So I find I must begin with a heartfelt “Thank you” for allowing me to come into St. Gertrude parish a stranger to minister with and for you. Thank you for your acceptance of me and challenging me to try to look into the heart of each of you. Please know how grateful I am for times you ministered to me through the illnesses that often tore at my soul even more than my body. Thank you for letting me be there to wipe a tear from your eye, embrace you when you were shaking and giving me the privilege of praying at your side. Thank you for trusting me in your times of struggle sharing them with me. Thanks as well for the honesty when you challenged me when I screwed up…and for the times I just plain and simple rubbed you the wrong way. Along with my thanks and gratitude to you, a moment of apology for those of I may have hurt in any way. To those with whom my style and presence did not click, know I wish I had been a better person for you. I have been given so much from all of you. Thank you is far too little to capture my gratitude to you.
If there is one thought I could leave with you, this would be it. Brothers and sisters, let us always work at the simple yet difficult task of being kind to one another. Let us learn that trusting takes more strength than bullying. It takes a stronger ego to be kind than to assert our being right…even when we are. So be kind to those you love. Why are they the ones we too often hurt? Maybe because we think we can get away with it. Trust me, there might come a time when, all alone, we might have to realize what we’ve done. Be kind to one another as part of the St. Gert’s family of faith. What we have in our diversity, in our openness to strive for making “All Are Welcome” a reality, far outweighs differences in liturgy or theologies or political points of view. Believe that kindness is not weakness. It takes the strength of an unwavering faith that seeks permanent healing and not just quick fixes. Be kind in what you say. Words can hurt more deeply than intended. Cowards who hide behind a blue screen are no more kind than any obvious bullies in the playground, in the neighborhood, at work, those who somehow got elected to public office, or who rant from pulpits. Kindness means saying “we” as we embrace more times than saying “you” as we make a fist or point accusingly. Being kind means saying “I’m sorry” without adding “…because you feel that way.” We can all be kinder. I know I can. So, I’m sorry that I always wasn’t and didn’t always practice what I preached.
A good way to end is with “Thank you” and “Be kind.” And so now I leave you as pastor to become your neighbor at 5555 N. Sheridan Road, #1612, Chicago 60660. Watch for my website. I’ll be writing come July at www.bumpingintogod.com. Know I will hold you all deeply in my heart with the love you have helped me find. God bless you. God bless you. God bless you….