“Come to me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11.28-30

“Stole, noun: an ecclesiastical vestment consisting of a long usually silk band worn traditionally around the neck by bishops and priests and over the left shoulder by deacons.”
-Merriam-Webster Dictionary

1995
I left the church
As pastor
Voluntarily
Lifted the stole
Off my draft horse shoulders
The stole with the tight grip
Around my neck
The white one
Red one
Purple one
Green one
Stoles of communion
Weddings
Burials
Baptisms
Stoles stained
at the collar
Smeared
With my blood
And the blood of others

100’s
No thousands of
Persons
Children of the Creator
Tears wept on shoulders
Stole drenched
Tight hugs entrapped
Stole crushed by
Love

And yet
And yet
A gradual
Turning
Towards the heavens
Penetrated stubborn
Tenacity

“But where will we live?”
I cried out
from the deck

“At the Italian house on the lake.”
God replied
Terraced to deep water
Safe for a fifteen year old
In those high curvy mountains
A worn dock
An island
Dolphin dives
45 minute
Swims with Lynn
Across the channel

After two and a half decades
I lay down my stole

I unwind it from my neck
Lift the satin sheen
Tattered with trials
Yellowed with sweat
Fold it neatly
Place it on the chair

I am Free

I am FREE

“Lay down, lay down
Lay it on down..”
– Melanie

O, that you would
learn faster
Act Sooner
On God’s
Ever exciting
Dynamic
Call
Than I did

And to take up
The yoke
That is light
To lay your burdens down

And yet..And yet..
Not one single regret