If you saw my Facebook post yesterday, you will know that I’m leaving New York and moving to Key West for a while.
This was not a decision that was taken lightly. After all, I’ve lived in Manhattan for almost 8 years and prior to that I lived on Long Island for 10.
After not working for a little while, I had lunch with someone from my parish and spoke about what I can do with the all the free time I had and about next steps in the Discernment Process in general. One of the things that was suggested was going to another diocese, something which I had not thought of before because I had committed to seeing this through to the end here, and commuting across either the East River to the Diocese of Long Island or the Hudson to the Diocese of Newark just didn’t seem feasible for a wide variety of reasons. To paraphrase my lunch partner, she said “well … there is another option. The Diocese of Southeast Florida. You already have friends and connections there, and you have a parish where the clergy and congregation are at least familiar with you.”
Admittedly, this was something I hadn’t even really thought of before. I mean, here I am living and working in New York, with a great parish, great friends, and someone in my life that I really care about. While I am not materially wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, having this life was something I had wanted ever since I landed here when I left NC at 18. When I visited Manhattan for the first time, it truly felt like home. To give all this up for the sake of a calling to the priesthood in The Episcopal Church seemed like a stretch.
Or … as I found out … maybe not.
I spoke about this with The Beau and other close friends, and they were all were most supportive. I had already planned to spend a week in Key West in February and so extended the stay to get a feel for what life would be like there, and things began to fall into place….things like housing, getting a feel for the prospect of a job market, adjusting to what it means to live in a small town and participating in the life of St. Peter’s. When I got back to New York, I spoke at length with Sista girl, and she was in a situation where she needs to move and would be happy to take over my apartment.
(Commandment #1 of NY living: Thou shalt not give up thy apartment if thou canst help it).
I had a feeling this transitional time would be one where things happen and I would need to trust like i haven’t had to trust in a long time. And given the sense that “this way shall not come again for a while,” meaning that I won’t have all this free time or the space or means to make such a move, I feel led to trust that this is something I cannot NOT do.
And so I’m doing it. I’m moving to Key West to continue the Discernment Process. With my current parish’s blessing (after all, this idea did not exactly originate as a pipe dream of mine).
The funny thing is that if I had not felt moved to start up a blog, then this likely could not have happened. If you may recall, one of my first visit’s to Key West resulted in someone who actually reads this thing coming up to me and saying, “Excuse me, but are you the Reverend boy?” After having cleaned up the beverage that had somehow found its way out of the glass and onto the counter, I became friends with some locals … one of which being the Vicar of St. Peter’s.
So .. I have a parish who will be happy to sponsor me …. I have a place to live for the first few weeks until I get settled … and thanks to the place where I used to work, I have a few job leads. I landed a temp job through the next few weeks to build up my “war chest” for the move, which will take place Memorial Day weekend (the last weekend in May for my outside-the-US friends).
As far as what I’m taking, for the first month, I’m only bringing clothes for a month and some books and other essentials. It’s basically whatever will fit in the back of Sista girl’s jeep, affectionately named “Jeronica.” My Personal Atheist and a friend of his is going to help me drive down.
Comments from friends and loved ones went like:
“You know, if this had been anyone else, I would think you are nuts. “
“This kind of thing only happens to you.”
“I thought I was doing good to have a two-week gig at the community church on Fire Island every summer, but this totally beats it.”
I go from being in denial this is happening, to being excited, to being sad, to some combination of the three. But at the base of it all is a feeling of assurance and complete non-anxiety that this is the right thing to do.
After all, I have friends and a social network down there, I’ve already established somewhat of a connection with a worshipping community. It was quite an experience for someone to come up to me on the street with a big smile on his face a few days after I preached saying “Hey I know you! You’re that guy who preached about Jesus and Clark Kent! That was so cool!”
And quite frankly, if God is calling me away from New York to continue what was begun, then quite frankly, there are far worse places to go!