I'm back in 90 degree Houston after one Blessing of the Pets, two town hall meetings, a three hour jaunt into the countryside to pick apples with my daughter, a walkabout four rooms full of folks, all within a five day trip to the Diocese of Connecticut.
Before, between, and after the Thursday and Friday evening and all day Saturday meet the candidate events, I had time to explore areas of Connecticut that I hadn't seen in my two prior trips to the state. It was the beginning of fall color, and Connecticut was even more beautiful than I expected.
I rented a car on Sunday and met my daughter at the Fairfield train station. We drove out to one of those pick your own orchards, and I got two bags full of macoun and liberty apples (some of each are in the oven baking as I write this for our covered dish supper tonight at St. Mary's). Lisa had read that one of the best places to eat pizza in Connecticut was in Fairfield, so we had an early supper of very yummy pizza at Pepe's back in town. After taking Lisa back to the train station, on the hour or so long drive back to my hotel in East Hartford, I pondered whether God would call me to serve in such a gorgeous part of God's creation.
The hospitality I received on the walkabout weekend was off the charts. Delicious food was beautifully served. At Grace Episcopal in Old Saybrook, the table where the four candidates sat as we answered questions was thoughtfully prepared with cold water, paper, and pencils for each of us. In Southport at Trinity Episcopal, the rector handed each of us small prayer crosses as he greeted us.
Then there was the prayer, prayer, and more prayer. Never in my years as a Christian can I recall an event more saturated with prayer. Our chaplain, Rebecca, gave each candidate a prayer cross on Thursday evening, and Linda, the president of the Standing Committee, gave us another on Saturday morning. All of the meet and greet events were within the context of worship--music, prayer, and Holy Scripture. The walkabout in Southport was in the midst of a Holy Eucharist, and so that we didn't forget that we were still at Christ's table, each walkabout room had a small altar of chalice, paten, and candle to remind us. To be sure that it was not overlooked, persons were assigned to pray at strategic times during each of the events.
Finally there was the camaraderie of the four candidates. I have great respect for the other three candidates and my respect grew in the hours that we were together. In fact, at our first event, I kept finding myself so interested in listening to Ian's, Mark's, and Jim's responses to the questions asked that I kept forgetting that, oh yes, I was supposed to be thinking about my own answers (thankfully, I remembered this better at our Saturday morning event, but I do fear that the video of the Friday night event may reflect my listening skills better than my speaking skills). I felt no competition between the four of us; for me, it was clear that we were on the same side--united in our desire to do God's will. For myself, I am very willing to serve God and the people of Connecticut as the 15th Bishop, but I want even more for the person that God chooses to be the one who will be elected on October 24.