The New Northeast

tracking the Spirit in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine

Deputy of the Day – the Very Rev. Ben Shambaugh

Ben Shambaugh, dean of St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland, takes his turn as Deputy of the Day.

Our opening prayer today was a reflection on the Zulu greeting, Sawubona, which means, “I see you.”

It was the message we shouted in English and Spanish to women held in the Hutto Detention Center on Sunday and is a theme that has been repeated again and again. A corollary to “I see you” is “I hear you.”

While I have testified several times at committee, I have been quiet on the floor of convention, listening to voices not always heard the church.  In my committee, Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Music, the strongest and most passionate voices have been from the Latino community, asking for better translations of existing services and the addition of new services that represent their cultural traditions.

From the parents of a girl who was killed at Marjory Stoneham High school, to the personal stories of men and women who have been abused by or in the church, to a Gwich’in woman pleading for the future of the sacred caribou breeding ground in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge of Alaska, which is now open to drilling, what I have heard has brought me to tears.

From the preaching of the Presiding Bishop to the music of African drumming, singing with a Caribbean beat, and jazz to knock your socks off, what I have heard has filled my heart with joy. 

As I walk through the halls of General Convention, I am met with smiling faces, hugs, and nods from people who were once strangers and are now friends, each saying “I see you” and each saying “in you I see God.”   

The legislation is important, and you need to know that your fellow Mainers are working hard, often 14 hours a day, for you. Significant decisions are coming down the pike.

As, in our congregations, however, what’s most important is the communion and community we share with one another and with God. Sawubona.

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