Jul 02 | My goodbye letter to St. Margaret’s and Hineni House

Dearest St. Maggie’s and Hineni House,

In my last year of seminary, I was part of a small pastoral leadership class led by the incomparable Rev. Dr. Janet Gear. For each member of the class, she crafted an image or phrase that she thought summed up the way we should live out our ministry.

Mine was “the sacramental hearth.” She felt that my vocation was to be someone who allowed people to ‘come home’ to God through soul friendship and the rituals of the church.

It truly was God’s will, then, that I should find you, a place where this ministry already occurs freely, naturally, and aggressively as the blackberry tangles in the Hineni backyard. I will be forever grateful for the way you have showed me what this looks like ‘in the wild.’

In some ways, you made the work very simple, because it is in your DNA, but also because of the radical hospitality of what you have done at Hineni House. So many of those whom you sheltered told me how they felt held, safe, and loved during their time there. Most churches aren’t brave enough to set aside their assets for the kind of work you did there: work that provided a loving home that was a safe and relatively neutral space for those who were curious about spirituality in general to process their feelings and, in some cases, their histories of spiritual abuse and loneliness. To host them in a home, while challenging, is significantly easier and gentler than insisting on their presence in a church in order to earn the gifts of community. For them, you demonstrated true Christian love: patient, kind, unenvious and humble, doing your best not to insist on your own way.

I tried my best to contribute to that work. Only the Hinenites can say for sure if I ever succeeded.

Now, I am being called to a very different and more difficult ministry: to find a way to create that same spirit in a church setting, when all too often such settings have been places of trauma and division. It is my hope that all you have taught me about grace, empathy, and hospitality at St. Margaret’s can benefit those who come to St. Brigid’s, and perhaps teach the wider Cathedral community, which is struggling through many staffing and pandemic-related changes, what it means to be grounded in God’s hope that “all shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

To my Hinenites, near and far: Thank you for taking the risk of coming through our door to be opened to yourself. Thank you for taking the risk to try community in the raw. Thank you for taking the risk to tell the divine, in whatever form it may take, that you wanted deeper relationship. Remember always that you are loved and welcomed just as you are, and that the desire to know the divine and to love your neighbour is all you need to do the will of the One who made you.

Even if you never find that One for whom you search in this life. Even if you fail over and over to love your neighbour.

The Creator of the stars of night did not make us to be gods or angels. They made us to be just who we are: human beings, fully alive.

To Heidi, Hineni Council, and St. Margaret’s: know that your ministry changed lives for the better. No matter what happens afterward, you created a waystation for weary travelers in a hurting world. You did exactly what you set out to do.

Well done, thou good and faithful servants.

I love you forever.


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