Sunday, the world suffered the loss of one who loved extravagantly. Jim Kelsey, bishop of Upper Michigan or "the U.P." as it is often called died in a car wreck. I could not take it in when the news came across my computer screen. Someone who was so alive in this world is now not.
Many tributes are gathering around the Episcopal Church. You can add yours HERE.
The hard thing for me at times like these is the distance of cyberspace. Although far flung friends stay in touch with email and blogs, there are times when I need to gather with other friends and just hold each other and weep. Nearby family and friends care but if they did not know the person it is not the same as those who have memories of the person to share.
Jim was someone who radiated the love of God to all around him. He was quick to laugh at nonsense (of which there is a lot in the Episcopal Church) and to mourn the waste of time and talent when we get so involved in our own importance over others. Although a bishop - he only saw that as a role to support others, it was never his intrinsic identity. His baptism was the most important rite for him.
Episcopal Cafe has many links to read more about this most amazing person.
For me I am thinking about a time when Jim was a Trainer for the Education for Ministry Program and we were at a training of trainers. We were doing a "futuring" workshop, thinking about what the future would be like by starting at a date in the future and "remembering" how we got there. Our group was playing with the idea of a world where no one could speak and people who where highly intuitive and knew other ways of listening were teaching the world how to communicate.
Our talked about how "could you believe it" in those old days they had contests to pick out the most beautiful - whatever that means! "Now" we could hear what all beings were saying - rocks, trees, bread, tables, animals. And how we were not really speaking but hearing each other on a deeper level. The discussion got wilder and wilder. We were laughing so hard - but somehow it was so memorable to me.
One part that I remember to this day was when one of us talked about how the BREAD gave the sermon last week in church. It told of its birth as seeds, gathered, milled, baked, and broken -- sharing its life with us. The willingness to give itself to us for strength and to satisfy our hunger.
I guess that reminds me of how willing Jim was to welcome people to the Diocese of Upper Michigan to learn about Baptismal Ministry and to go on the road to share a way of being church that encourages all to become the people they were created to be in the church and the world. He was a person who offered his experience to both pique and satisfy our hunger - our yearning for a meaningful life in the Spirit.
We will miss his lightness of being and I will miss a friend.
From Linda Fleming of Baggs, Wyoming
Life is short and precious
And we do not have too much time
To gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us.
So be swift to love
and make haste to be kind.