Written in dedication & in honor of Rev. Jill McAllister, in celebration of her 15 years as minister of People’s Church

A poet is called to witness, to see
and to speak the truth,
offering herself
as a mirror for others,
allowing others to be her mirror.

A minister is called to be a poet-hearted warrior
using her experience to inspire change,
and to never stop
taking the next step
on her journey forward.

She spreads her landscaped hands
open, like a map—the paths unbroken,
interwoven possibilities from around the globe;
there are so many choices,
so many answers unclear
yet, she patiently guides each weary traveler.
Ministry takes time,
it takes courage and trust
to do a job unfinished, always
passed down a long line
of hands so wide, so willing
to contain this journey we all make.

She embraces that space,
without calling it emptiness.
Space enough for congregations of people
making that journey together,
trying each day, each moment
to be better than the moment before.

Space enough for a community
to build a home in one another,
recognizing kinship in each others’ eyes.
She has hands so wide they span the Earth,
reaching her brothers and sisters across oceans,
across culture and language, these hands
touch our deepest selves.

They are wide enough for all our joy,
able to hold the passionate spark of celebration
without burning; the creative fire
that brings a birth, a coming-of-age, a marriage.
Hands that part the tidal wave of our fears
like curtains, exposing bare bones of hope—
somewhere to start again.

Hands that cradle us in illness, grief or death,
they carry our pain, thick and heavy, buried within;
she bears the weight of others
without it weighing her down.
Hands that gently lift our dreams
like dandelion seeds and softly blow,
scattering with her breath
our highest potential, bourn across continents
on new wings flying by the strength
of her faith in our capability.

She listens with her whole body,
letting your stories sink deep.
She keeps her heart as a flower in constant bloom
with enough room to enfold us all in her compassion.

She speaks a symphony with many voices,
wisdom borrowed, generations of ancestors’
lessons she holds aloft, ready
offerings for those who seek.
Her multi-toned mantra resonates in your gut
when she strikes the note of your personal truth.

I would also tell you she can fly,
read your thoughts with her X-ray vision
and that she faces the terrors of this world unafraid.
And though her spirit sometimes soars,
and her intuition is strong, her greatest power
is her humanity, her vulnerability—
the places we are all most connected to one another—
where we most struggle to pull away:
our pain, our fear, our failure.

From these, she builds a bridge between us,
carefully strung with acceptance and understanding.
A minister does not curl into a corner
withered and withdrawn
from her shame or sadness;
she holds these tenderly
in hands so wide the fear looks small again.
She teaches that we all look the same in shadow.

She reminds us in those moments
when we feel lost or without purpose
to see our worth.
To know we are loved
at our most unlovable.
To see ourselves and each other
the way she sees us: sacred.

A minister is called to be a poet-hearted warrior
using her experience to inspire change,
and to never stop
taking the next step
on her journey forward.

So wherever your next steps take you,
may you stay alert to the way things truly are
within you and around you.
Stand firm in your faith,
until it becomes clear that you should move.
Be courageous, be strong, as often as you can
and try again today                   
to let all that you do be done in love.

I love you, Jill.
Go in peace.

July 28, 2013
E. Bullmer

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