Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Some of you know this story, and many of you do not. I’ll tell a very abbreviated version of it now. When I retired from state service in Oxford in June, 2014, I got on a plane some five days later with two checked bags and two carry-ons and flew 4,257 miles away to become a special education teacher for the 2014-15 school year in Lihue on the island of Kaua’i, Hawai’i. As I sat in my hotel room in Oxford the night before I flew out, this is what my keychain looked like:
You see, I had turned in my office keys the week before I left, my house keys to the new occupants two days before I left, and I had sold my Jeep Cherokee just that morning. Many of my belongings and “stuff” had been given away or sold for many months prior; the remainder sat in a storage unit for which my adult children and my sister had the keys. As I sat in that hotel room, completely divested of everything but four relatively small containers of things that were meant to clothe and comfort me in a faraway place, the enormity of my decision, my path, my new life, became abundantly clear. For the first time in my adult life, I was untethered. I had an empty key chain. Nothing to lock up, nothing to unlock, nothing to guard, nothing to maintain.
The year I spent on my beloved Kaua’i will always be a highlight in the record book of my life. I’ve often said that it was a doozy. It’s where I learned, with God’s help, what I was made of. It’s where I found the courage to live as my truly authentic self and to walk by faith. Yes, I acquired keys: to my condo, my mailbox, my truck, my classroom. I got to experience, among many wondrous things, true Aloha, deep and lasting friendships, and a profound love for diversity, humanity, and nature that will live in me all of my days.
I’ve never forgotten that feeling of being untethered. I’ve never forgotten that feeling of not knowing what’s next. Thank you, God, for all the blessings of this life. Thank you for the twists and turns, for the knowledge that You are with me wherever I go. And now, I am experiencing that next chapter here at Chapel. What a blessing! Thanks be to God!