It was love at first sight.
I first spotted her behind the pulpit in the sanctuary
beneath this high-reaching pinnacle
on a Holy Wednesday at high noon many moons ago.
No springtime blossom, no new bloom of love tasted or smelled
so sweet as that sweet Georgia-grown peach of a woman.
We consummated our love over Thai food
and have rekindled it over many cups of coffee and tea
in the past seven years.
She taught me and showed me just how wonder-filled
it is for women to be stand behind the sacred desk
and speak words of truth and power
to both men and women who are wise enough to sit under the power of her voice.
She has raised her hands and her heart and pleaded for God's blessings
over the people of First Presbyterian Church of uptown Charlotte,
of Bayonnais, Haiti,
of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico,
followers of Christ in Russia,
and countless others I know nothing about.
She has prayed for us and with us through the most difficult moments of our life.
She arrived before us at the hospital on the longest night of 2008
and began the arduous process of emergency room sign-in.
Her love for our family, our beautiful daughter, and me never wavered
no matter how deep, anguished, or endless my sorrow seemed to be.
She introduced me to the woman who owns this magnificent view -
and I cannot ever thank her sufficiently for that life-altering introduction.
Today, on this Holy Wednesday,
my dear friend, sister, soulmate Katie Crowe
preached her last Wednesday Worship message
and served communion to us
one final time.
Why would anyone NOT want to receive the bread and a blessing from
this beautiful, gentle, godly, wise woman?
For now, for what I hope will be only a brief while,
we have had our last cup of rock-candy-sweetened coffee together.
But I will remain forever intoxicated on the wine of hope that she has gotten me addicted to.
Katie preached about the lonely road that Jesus followed during the last days of his life.
She reminded us that when we are
"facing the end, the final word, the last gasp, the tearful goodbye,
the painful ambiguities, the tortured failings, the things we can't handle"
we are not alone.
Christ has gone before us and is with us now.
We are never alone.
To you, my sweet friend, The Reverend Kathleen A. Crowe,
newly minted Senior Pastor of the Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church,
Durham, North Carolina,
I say this:
As you and I face the end of this phase of our sacred sisterhood,
as we ponder the final word, the tearful farewell,
know that you have never been, are not now, and never will be alone.
Christ has gone before you into Durham and Christ goes with you now.
Know that every Wednesday for the rest of my life,
I will pray for you and give thanks for how your presence in my life has made me
a stronger, more peaceful, less self-centered seeker
of solitude, silence and the God who is making all things new.
I love you.
I will always love you.