Bishop Sally French
On several occasions recently, I’ve found myself quoting a brief poem, “Don’t Worry” by Mary Oliver, from her book Felicity.
Things take the time they take. Don’t worry.
How many roads did St. Augustine follow before he became St. Augustine?
While none of us are on the way to becoming St. Augustine, we are all on journeys to become who we are created and called to be, and our congregations and communities and diocese are as well. As much as we may want to get to where we are going sooner rather than later, we will get there in God’s good time, and not before. Some things will move more quickly than we expect, and others (many others) will feel at times frustratingly slow.
I am especially aware that the Diocese of New Jersey is in a season of transition. The episcopal transition is only one aspect of the changes of this season. Many of our congregations are, in significant ways, beginning to fully emerge from the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic. Community events and ministries that were important congregational offerings in the before-times are starting to come back for the first time, and it is (mostly) wonderful. I say mostly because there have been changes. Some of our beloved church members are no longer with us and the community around us is different than it was in early 2020, but it is still so good to be back.
On August 26, I visited the International Food Festival at St. Elizabeth’s, Elizabeth. It was an afternoon of joyful community celebration, with a car show, music, games, and food from around the world. I was struck by the number of people, from St. Elizabeth’s and across the diocese, together with non-Episcopalians, who were there to enjoy the festive atmosphere, the cars, the music, and the celebration of global culture and community. The St. Elizabeth’s festival was a hint of what I think God wants for us—to be places of welcome and joyful celebration, where God’s love is known and shared. We aren’t quite there yet, but don’t worry—things take the time they take.
The Rt. Rev. Sally French
Bishop of New Jersey