Rockland, Maine is my Galilee. Judy and I had been married a few months when we arrived there, in a beat up VW and basically penniless. We were expecting our first child and, as they say, unencumbered by the thought process. We rode up Route One from Massachusetts and ran out of gas in Rockland, looked around, and said, “Let’s live here.” It was October of 1972.
We didn’t know a soul. We found a small apartment and began looking for work. There was a serious recession and people were reluctant to hire someone they didn’t know. I was flummoxed when in job interviews I was asked, “Who is your father?”
Judy’s idea was that we go to church so we could meet people. I was nervous but agreed. We found St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. I was in the process of reading the bible for the first time and curious. So it began. They took us in and welcomed us. In a year Bishop Wolf made a visitation and I was baptized, along with my son, confirmed, and received Holy Communion for the first time. Everything changed.
Jesus was walking along by the shore of Lake Galilee. He saw Peter and said, “Follow me.” He, too, seemed unencumbered by the thought process, dropped everything and changed course. So it began and soon everything changed.
It was our plan to return to Maine after seminary and serve a parish. But fate took us on a detour to North Carolina then to New Jersey then to Louisiana then to Maryland. And it was toward the end of the time in Maryland that I began to long for the beginnings, for the intensity and the calling I first received in Maine. Peter also heard this message from Mary Magdalene on Easter Sunday. Jesus said to her, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’ (Matthew 28:10)
On Saturday, August 15th, Judy and I returned to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rockland, Maine. The occasion was a celebration of new ministry and welcoming a new rector. It was like returning to Galilee. Memories flooded back as we sat in the pew on the same side we used when we had our first encounters there. As they liturgy moved through the renewal of baptismal vows using water in the font, I looked with astonishment at that font and was aware that was where I came alive in Christ. When we received communion, Judy and I knelt at the same rail side by side just like when we first began the journey.
We were in Rockland, Maine and I was back in Galilee, where Jesus first called me. Forty years later, the memories were more than just recollections. They were reanimated as I stood in the place where so many significant spiritual milestones occurred. Rockland is a good place for me. I can never forget what began there and who I met there. His voice and call have changed over the years. And when I need reminding or renewing, Galilee is just down the road.