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May 19, 2008
The work of a writer can be done in bed, with a cat or two dozing by the writer's side. Almost all of a rector's work, on the other hand, must be done from a vertical position -- you can think about your sermon in bed, and you can make telephone calls from there. But for most of it, you have to get up.

I'll be a rector again in August, but I'm not yet. Guess where I am.

On days like today, the day after AIDSWALK/NY, I connect powerfully with my Inner Sloth. Yesterday was glorious, almost all day -- tender morning sunlight filtering through the trees in Central Park, on a day that had been predicted to be a rainy one. A tiny table, beautifully fitted out as an altar for a celebration of the Holy Eucharist, and the walkers clustered around it. We sang beautifully, favorite hymns in lovely harmony. Curious walkers from other teams passed and saw what we were doing -- I always think that the sight of people worshipping in an unexpected setting blesses those who behold it, whether or not they attend.

Then we stepped off, walking as briskly as a column of 40,000 people can. As always, we were exuberantly mixed: men, women and children, babies in strollers and in backpacks, dogs on leashes and at least one tame pigeon, who completed the walk perched on his clown owner's head. People of every color human beings come in, people of every faith and no faith, people from everywhere. Teams from large corporations and from schools, teams from fraternal organizations and churches, from stores and neighborhood associations. For a while we walked next to a group of turbaned young men whose tee shirts read "Proud to Be Sikh!" People cheered us along the way -- HipHop radio stations, Brazilian drummers, young people handing us water to drink, waving and shouting and high-fiving us.

Because I raised a lot of money, I was a "Gold Star Walker" and was given a fancy crown to wear. The combination of a tiara and a clerical collar is an interesting one: one an emblem of rule and the other of service. To ensure that the implications of the tiara didn't go to my head, God arranged for my energy to flag a bit at the three quarter mark, and I finished the walk on a park bench. I would like to have finished at the very end. I used to finish it there.

But I am all right -- a bit sore this morning, that's all. It's not necessary to succeed at everything you try. It was more important to earn the money for AIDS causes than it was to finish the walk. Finishing the walk was just an individual goal I had, something I wanted to do. Something for myself. Nothing wrong with that, either -- it's good to have challenges and try to meet them. You win some and you lose some.

But it would be a pity if failing to meet every challenge we faced prevented us from trying again.

I raised almost $8,000 from my wonderful Geranium Farmers! It was like Christmas. Thanks and thanks and thanks to all. And if you forgot to sponsor my walk, it's not too late. Visit, and click on "sponsor a walker".
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