At our St. Mark’s staff devotions this week, we read the last part of the flood story in Genesis 8, where Noah sends out a dove from the ark to see what exists in the world around them. In the evening, we are told, the dove came back to the ark, and there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf. We chose the story because it gave us a good way to remember and celebrate the sabbatical journey of Pastor Shjerven. Like the dove that was sent out from the ark, she, now, has returned with freshly plucked leaves of many varieties.

Some of the leaves she brings were plucked from the worship life of Christian communities across the United States. Some of them come from the people she met, and from the books she read. Some of them come from a deeper journey into scripture with its rich images and stories. Some of them come from the land itself, from the soil she tilled and the plants she tended. In the weeks and months ahead, we will all be blessed with this evidence of the life that exists all around us, and we welcome Pastor Shjerven back to the ark with the same eagerness that Noah had in that remarkable story!

With all of the comings and goings in these summer months, nearly all of us have had the experience of venturing out and the returning to St. Mark’s with freshly plucked leaves. Even if you didn’t leave the county where you live, you, too, have evidence of the life that exists around us and we are eager to receive that as we continue our journey together!

Pastor Jan Ruud