For reasons that defy understanding, several Christmases ago, Leeman presented me with a DVD set of The Littlest Hobo. Not even the cheesy-if-nostalgic 1980s series, but the original show of the same name produced in the 1960s. We’d actually never watched the DVDs until a fit of whimsy struck us on Labour Day … until the blatant misogyny got to be a bit too much to handle. (Seriously, that show begins with two dudes harassing a woman, despite her obvious attempts to rebuff them. I will spare you all a digression on the deep roots of our rape culture, but just know that I really want to get up on a soapbox right now! #endrant).
Where was I? Oh, yes, the Littlest Hobo. My, admittedly brief, exposure to show got me pondering the ever-changing nature of life. The whole point of the titular canine’s adventures is that he goes to a community, finds someone to help, but then moves on. His life is always itinerate, always on the go. As the quintessentially 80’s theme song articulates: “Maybe tomorrow I’ll want to settle down / Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep moving on.”
It might be strange to connect the life of a character on a children’s TV series to the life of the priesthood, but I must confess I feel a sort of resonance at the moment. The mixed blessing of ministry is that clergy are indeed often called to serve different communities, but not permanently. There comes a point where we are called on to new challenges and new ministries. I find myself at this particular moment called to such a time of transition.
Some of you will no doubt have heard by now that I have officially accepted a dual position as Priest-in-Charge of Harcourt Parish and Episcopal Chaplain to Kenyon College in Gambier, OH. My final Sunday at Grace Church will be October 25, and we will be moving out early in the following week. This is an incredible opportunity. It’s not a far stretch at all to say that this position is literally my dream job. Both Leeman and I are graduates of Kenyon, and it is a particular community which shaped us both in many ways. We are incredibly excited to be “going home” in a sense to face new opportunities and challenges.
At the same time, I cannot deny how difficult it is to leave a places that has been so important to us–both the particular community of Grace Church on-the-Hill and the wider community of Toronto. I have been at Grace for five years now — starting as a student, then as assistant curate, and now as an associate priest. And I have been in Toronto for over a decade. Indeed, Toronto is the place I have lived longest in my life, so it truly has become the place I call home.
So, perhaps it is not fair to compare my lot in life with that of the “littlest hobo.” I am not restless, I am not a wanderer. I do crave home and I do crave that ability to settle into a place and to fully inhabit it. I found that sense of home at Kenyon many years ago, and I certainly have found it in the many people I love here in Toronto. All the same, the nature of this strange priestly vocation is that we are called to serve different communities in different seasons. In this instance, I am at least profoundly grateful that my wandering path is taking me back to a community that is so close to my heart, taking the warm memories of Toronto with me.