Faces on Faith: A life changing experience on Captiva
For the past three seasons, it has been my privilege to serve as the seasonal pastor of The Captiva Chapel by the Sea.
Little did I know what a life enriching experience this would become following my retirement four years ago.
I had never been to Southwest Florida and had only heard about Sanibel. A serendipitous phone call changed the direction of my life.
So I came to this paradise a stranger and was quickly and graciously received, not only by the Chapel community, but also by the many faith communities on the two islands.
No one could have offered a more gracious and generous hospitality than The Reverend John Danner.
By his initiative I was welcomed into the ecumenical association here on the islands and to the work of the Shared Scholars Committee. I quickly realized in a new place the rich blessing of community as people of faith joined hearts and hands in welcoming me.
I was not a stranger for very long!
The diversity of religious experience and practice in these two communities is a gift for all who come here to live or visit.
The wisdom of the Islamic poet Rumi, who wrote: “Beyond our differences there is a field, I will meet you there”, is realized in large measure in the culture on these two islands where people come from many places and traditions.
In many ways there is a positive witness to the reality that there can be a life enriching unity amidst diversity amongst people of good will.
In a few weeks I will return home to New Jersey. I am asked: “Will you miss this place?”
Is the sky blue?
I will miss the people but I am a better person for the grace and love of God that I have come to know and experience in the blessings of hospitality, community and the unity amidst diversity that I have realized over the past three years.
It is good to know that what I have experienced – in this unexpected season of ministry – does not end with my departure. Life goes on. And as for me, as J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in The Fellowship of the Ring:
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
God continue to bless and keep you.
-George Morris, Pastor of the Historic Captiva Chapel by the Sea