On Sunday, I was part of a ceremony to recognize the beginning of a pastor’s service to a church. The one who was commissioned is a friend of mine, a gentleman who has already accomplished much in his life. He knows a great deal, admits his mistakes, and is gracious enough not to hide from either truth. I’ve learned so much from him.

This particular commissioning took place in a country church that was founded over 200 years ago, and the venerable sanctuary still carried an ambiance of gravitas. The wooden floorboards were clean and polished. Light from the clear windows high on the wall beamed down upon us in the hard-backed pews. A tall pulpit stood solemnly in the front and center. The clergy wore black robes and stoles, which were made of colorful fabric that flowed around the shoulders and down the chest. I don’t begrudge any of this formality. If we are honest, we are only pilgrims here for the blink of an eye. It’s appropriate and sacred to mark transitions, including hopeful beginnings.

In the commissioning ceremony, familiar hymns were sung with gusto, and homilies were offered with attention to the craft of words to inspire both the pastor and congregation to serve with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love. To conclude the commissioning, the now newly-minted pastor rose to offer the benediction.

Yet, before he opened his mouth, about a half-dozen ladybugs suddenly took to the air, buzzing over the pulpit through the hazy afternoon sunlight. For all the pomp and circumstance that had come before them, these creatures said it best. Doesn’t everything have a language, a music? And isn’t it the case that everything is our teacher?

Andrew Taylor-Troutman is the author of “Little Big Moments,” a collection of mini-essays about parenting, and “Tigers, Mice & Strawberries: Poems.” Both titles are available most anywhere books are sold online. Taylor-Troutman lives in Chapel Hill where he serves as pastor of Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church and occasionally stumbles upon the wondrous while in search of his next cup of coffee.


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