Richard Ruane, a congregant at St. Lydia’s, is a preacher’s kid from Dallas. A recovering Baptist, he’s been drifting between Episcopalian and Lutheran congregations since 1992. He works as an administrator in higher education and has grad degrees in communication and education. He preached this sermon at Dinner Church on June 24, 2012.
When I was 28 years old, I was living in Dallas, and I was working with a therapist. She was not the best therapist you could find, but she gave me one good piece of advice: she told me it would be a good idea to put some distance between me and my home city, my history there, and go out into the larger world.
I thought she was trying to be funny: so I laughed.
It was over a year after that when, almost unexpectedly to me, I packed my Toyota Tacoma (yes – I drove a pickup truck), said goodbye to two beautiful faith communities I had been part of. There was a round of goodbyes and I drove 780 miles away to Atlanta.
I was taken in by my friend Kraig. At the time, we had met only once before, but I needed a place to live and he welcomed me.
For me, leaving Dallas was an act of hope. I was diving headlong into a chaotic journey that I needed and had every trust that it would take me where I needed to go. But the actions that I took on hope caught a lot of people in its wake: it changed the way I related to my family. Before they were born (or their parents had even met), I had decided that my nieces and nephews would have an uncle that they only saw twice a year. It changed the way I would see and relate to many of my friends who were themselves quickly dispersing throughout the country, most of them migrating west to California.
Eight years and three cities later, I was living in Chicago, and, surprising myself, climbing a corporate ladder in a company I had come to intensely dislike and distrust, working closely with an executive team that could give the writers of Mad Men or Dallas some pointers on moral bankruptcy. I had no faith community, only a very small group of friends, and near desperate longing for the people who had been my family of choice on the East Coast. I desperately needed a chaotic journey, but lacked the hope that I needed to launch one. But eventually, launch one I did, and despite its beginnings in resignation, it became the reason I returned not just to the East Coast, but why I ended up returning to Christianity when the St. Sebastian church community and its pastor welcomed me to their altar without questions or hesitations.
Of course — many people would tell you that I got that story at least a little bit wrong.
Read the rest of Richard’s wonderful sermon: “Sarah’s Laughter“.