How many pigs did you get?
I don't know for sure. They're going to send me a list. A lot. Oh, and I got two fish farms.
Good. Fish are good.
And lots of chickens. Flocks of chickens. And I got lots of mosquito nets and lots of schoolchildren's scholarships. Lots. And a bunch of other stuff.
I thought the 25th anniversary of my ordination would be good, but I didn't know how good. How useful it would be. How much fun it would be. How many other people would be brought into it and enjoy it, either as giver or recipient -- the families who receive the pigs and the seeds and the mosquito nets don't know me from Eve, but their children will live and grow and get a chance to go to school because of my anniversary and what people did with it.
That's what being a priest has been like, these 25 years. A dance between me and the world, back and forth between the quiet of my spirit and the world outside it, a dance that has woven in more and more people every day, a dance that joins other peoples' dances, joins them with me and with one another.
I was a dancer when I was young. Dreamed of being a prima ballerina, of dancing alone on stage, brilliant and light, the center of everyone's attention. Dreamed of flying through the air, of being lifted high and then settled softly back onto the floor. It was not to be -- no one now living remembers me as anything that could possibly be described as light, and any man who tried to lift me would have his work cut out for him.
But I am still in the dance, and it is a better dance for me than the glamorous one of which I dreamed as a girl. I am not alone in it, and I am not the focus of everyone's attention. We grasp hands and turn, pass each other and grasp new hands, around and around, in a line, in a circle, everywhere and everyone. A thousand different steps and turns: the Mass, the prayers, the confession, the hospital, the funeral, the baptism, the wedding -- the dance goes on in encouragement, rejoicing, mourning and laughter and truth.
How beautiful we are. And, at our best, how good. And how blest the dance: the dance of the people, the dance of the priest.
Thanks, thanks to all for your wonderful good wishes and your gifts to Episcopal Relief and Development. I will let you know how we did -- but I know it was huge, and I am deeply touched and deeply grateful.