Saturday, January 15, 2011

Reflections upon a retirement

Recollections upon the retirement of The Right Reverend Rayford Baines High:

I'm proud to call Rayford High a friend as well as a spiritual mentor. Was asked to share a few recollections for possible presentation at Council. Here's what I wrote.

Earliest would be the story he told about the live lamb used in a Christmas Pagent when he had a Church in the Rio Grande Valley (Harlingen, I believe). Seems the lamb wouldn't quit "bleeting" during the pagent. As the Parish included several sheep & goat ranchers, one of those ranchers arose and walked up to the lamb, grabbed it by its coat and shook it roughly, whereupon it quieted down. Many members of the audience were aghast at what had just taken place, though it was an approprite cure for the problem. However, Rayford did say that was the last time he tried a "living Nativity".

I was not in Church the day he decided to use his fishing rod as a visual aid during one of his early sermons here at St. Paul's; however, legend has it he took and cast down the center aisle almost hitting one of his Vestry leaders sitting in the pew. Last time for that idea too.

And, I can't help but remember his credo: "If you can't sing well, sing loud." Joyfully too, in his case, I'd add. That has to be one of his hallmarks.

Don't recall any other particular quotes from his time here; rather, an overarching spirit of care and concern for the flock. He offered me insights into how difficult it is to pastor a Parish well. I know for a fact some very onerous tasks fell to him while he was here, but he gladly bore those burdens out of concern for others so that he might face things rather than them having to do so. His advice to his many assistants was: "Make sure you get the Weddings and Funerals right. You get many chances at Sermons and Sunday Services but only one shot at those most important times." And he was a stickler for liturgical detail, just ask his Acolytes. Being from the "business community", I remember trying to engender a little more organization within our Parish structure, for organization was not one of Rayford's strong suits. If I remember correctly, that didn't exactly work out as we (the Vestry) had anticipated, either.

But... all in all, he loved us and we loved him. And that's what the journey is about. In Rayford, we were fortunate to watch as he truly exhibited Christian love and charity for all those with whom he came into contact. By example, rather than words, he taught us what it means to be Christian.

Pax and Godspeed, my brother, and always keep a tight line.