Seniority/ Rector recalls path to service
Published 3:37 pm, Thursday, July 21, 2011
Editor's note: This is one in an occasional series of chats with local seniors about their lives, youthful aspirations, sources of pride and regret, plus a bit of wisdom to share with younger folks.
Q: Do you live in Westport?
A: My wife, Judyth, to whom I have been married 38 years, and I have lived in Westport for 21 years. Judyth is a psychotherapist and spiritual director. We have one daughter who attended the Westport schools and Staples, who now lives in her own home here in town.
Q: What is your full-time job?
A: I am an Episcopal priest, and for the past 21 years have been the rector of Christ & Holy Trinity Church. One of the frequently repeated jokes about clergy persons is that we work but one day a week. In our various responsibilities and duties, a great deal of emphasis is placed on those public occasions of worship when we are so very visible to members of our congregations. Our responsibilities and duties also extend deeply and personally into the lives of members of our congregations. We support and educate our congregations in the journey we call life. In times of illness and crisis -- such as the death of a loved one -- we are very present during the crisis and following, assisting families and individuals in transition. As all of us pass through the various stages of life, clergy walk the walk with congregants from infancy to adulthood and to death. There are wonderfully happy occasions such as those marking milestones as Confirmation, Bar and Bat Mitzvah, marriage, as well as the holidays and special festival days in our respective faiths. As clergy representatives of our various congregations, we also serve a variety of organizations as board members of denominational, civic, state-wide and national organizations and institutions.
Q: What did you want to be when you grew up?
A: Because my father was a physician and my mother was a nurse, I thought I would become a person involved in service to others, perhaps as a teacher. It was not until my second year of divinity school that I discovered the excitement of serving in a congregation. In community and as an extended family, I realized the possibility of being able share in the joys and sorrows, highs and lows of lives enriched, empowered and made holy through relationships with one another and with God.
Q: What was a significant memory or defining moment in your childhood?
A: One of my most significant memories was being with my father when he made house calls. Sometimes I was invited into the homes he would visit, watching him carry in his black "medicine" bags. The "Doc's" visits had great impact, not only on his patients, but me as well.
Q: What are your main hobbies and interests?
A: Squash, tennis, a little golf and paddling a kayak off Compo.
Q: Do you have a favorite work of art?
A: The poetry, essays and novels of Wendell Berry.
Q: Do you have a favorite movie?
A: Thousand Clowns, in which Jason Robards played the one-of-a-kind character, Murray Burns.
Q: What TV show do you watch regularly?
A: Thank goodness for PBS and the NewsHour. And a bit of ESPN for the scores, especially the Sox.
Q: If you could tell the President of the United States one thing, what would it be?
A: I believe we elected you because of your character. After seeking balanced counsel and not just those in your Cabinet, but a wider spectrum of opinion, in the quiet of real and deep prayer in and with God, trust yourself and act from your heart.
Q: Do you have any regrets in life?
A: I was very fortunate to have traveled a good deal in high school and college. I would have wished to have traveled more in mid-life to see the world with eyes wide open with a wiser and more experienced heart.
Q: What achievements of yours are you most proud of?
A: It was a great privilege to coach our young daughter's soccer and softball teams. Such occasions affirmed the extraordinary promise, vitality and possibility of every child if given encouragement and support. Being able to participate with those young people, rooting them on, giving them encouragement especially when discouraged was a great thrill and a very great joy.
Q: What, if anything, are you greatly concerned about?
A: The shadow side of affirmation and encouragement is the ease with which our contemporary culture levies criticism, condemnation, even mockery towards others, especially young people. Such constant negative reinforcement abrades the human soul making us tentative, fearful and anxious. We need lots of affirmation for individuals and communities to thrive.
Q: Best piece of advice for the younger generation?
A: You are who you are and have so many opportunities because of the sacrifices and hard work of your parents and generations who preceded you. As much as you can, relish the bounty and blessings you have received with gratitude and thanksgiving. And "pay it forward."
Q: What brings you your greatest joy?
A: Appreciating the beauty all around us, the wonders of nature and the majesty of God's creation.
Q: What are you looking forward to?
A: More time to reflect, read and relish all the blessings with which I have been blessed, especially my family.
Q: If you had a magic wand, what would you wish for?