I'm OK - You're OK  . . . He's OK, too!

"So how are things going?" they ask. "Great! Fine!" I answer. Then they move in a little closer and whisper, "Come on . . . you can tell me. How are things REALLY going?" "Great! Fine! Really!" I reply.

And really, they are. I have nothing negative to say; no gossip to spread. The transition from our 8th Rector to our 9th Rector has gone as smooth as silk. Honestly, it surprises me as much as it does you.

When Father Myers announced his retirement more than a year ago, I think we all knew that he was ready to move on. I'm not sure he knew that . . . and I certainly was not ready to have him go. But his last few years at Holy Comforter were hard for him. And after 25 years as rector, there was no way Father Myers was going to turn the reins over to just anyone who wanted the job. Fortunately, the Succession Committee found someone very much rooted in our parish life and connected to our community. Father Parkin may have come from San Francisco, but he left his heart in Kenilworth twenty years ago. It's almost like he was biding his time elsewhere, waiting to return to Holy Comforter when the time was right. This happened to be the right time.

Things are definitely a little different around here. Parishioners have finally stopped calling me to make an appointment with Father Parkin (he answers his own phone and schedules his own appointments) and, believe it or not, with Father Myers (I did offer to do it as a side job, but he didn't offer to pay). Father Parkin just smiles every time I say, "Well, when Father Myers was here . . ." (I'm really trying to stop doing that) or when people accidently refer to him as "Bob." Minor changes have been made to the Sunday liturgies, and if you don't like them, you can, as Father Parkin says, "blame it on the new guy." But the "new guy" isn't really so new. He's like that old pair of slippers you discover in the back of your closet that always fit so well. Nice and comfortable.  The Parkin family is thrilled to be "home" again.  The parish - which traditionally doesn't do well with change - has welcomed them back with open arms, allowing Father Myers to easily let go.

So I'm ok, you're ok, Father Parkin is ok. And Father Myers is doing great. When I saw him about a week after his retirement, I actually had to do a double-take. It wasn't because he was dressed casually, or that I wasn't expecting to see him in the office. It was actually the first time I ever noticed his dimples!  He was grinning from ear to ear and I don't remember ever seeing him so relaxed and happy. Retirement - whatever that is for him - has done him wonders.

As a gift on the day he left, I gave Father Myers a "Story People" print (quirky pictures with odd little stories, several of which are hanging in my office). I knew it didn't fit in with the décor of his new apartment (which he loves), but it was something uniquely me. It says, "I know he's not really gone, she said, but the world still feels smaller to me today."  It is a pleasure working for and with Father Parkin - the "new guy" has certainly made the transition easy. But when I hear his office back door open, or the squeak of his desk chair, or notice his light flashing on my phone, I still expect to see the "old guy" (figuratively speaking, of course).

Father Myers will be the keynote speaker at his retirement party on May 14, and I'm sure there won't be a dry eye in the room. I, as many of you, miss him terribly and look forward to celebrating with him that evening at Misericordia as he officially passes the baton to the "new guy."

But let us always remember that he's not really gone . . . he's just a few miles down the street.