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January 20, 2007
Of all the places I go, this is one of my favorites: once a month, a small group of brother and sister clergy. Eight Episcopal priests and a Baptist minister -- we season each other. One has served for more than forty years, another for almost as long. One of us is in for twenty-six years. The rest are somewhere in the teens or early twenties, except for two who have logged under ten.

We serve rich parishes and poor. We are in between parishes and longing for a new one, or we are happily settled and fulfilled. Or we are settled and frustrated. Or we are both at once. We are ready to leave a parish or preparing to go to one -- we are in many places on the journey.

We drink coffee. We talk and pray. We discover that we are a lot smarter than we gave ourselves credit for being, and also a lot more foolish, and that often we are both of these at the same time. We give each other excellent advice, advice we don't always act on ourselves. Sometimes we cry, right there in front of everybody, and we are not ashamed. And always we laugh.

How I love them! What true souls they are -- not perfect, but so
faithful, so desirous of the good! The church is in good hands with these folks, I think as I ride the train back home along the Hudson.

Whatever your calling, your work is an immense part of your life. It accounts for the majority of your waking hours. You grow almost as close to some of the people at work as you are to the members of your own family; there are even moments when you are closer. In a sense, nobody knows what it's like to do what you do except other people who also do it. You can tell the ones who love you, but they can't really know. A person has to be there.

Check out "Preachers and Teachers" on Beliefnet has published a series of short videos featuring a number of religious teachers. Barbara Crafton is one of them. You can view her clips at the links below:

Barbara on Forgiveness:

Barbara on her core faith (Life is Hard but God is Good):

Barbara on her favorite parable:
Tomorrow, Sunday the 21st, at 10:15am, Barbara Crafton will join the Rector's Forum at St. Bartholomew's in New York City to talk about her course "A Closer Walk With God, For People On the Run" which will meet at St. Bart's on the Sunday evenings of February and March.
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