Yesterday I arrived for lunch at Keynes College ahead of the noonday crowd and found myself sitting down alone at an empty table in an uncharacteristically quiet dining hall. In short order, however, I heard a familiar voice from behind saying, "May I join you?"
It was Bishop Martin Nyaboho of Burundi, smiling warmly, and I was delighted to see him. I welcomed the company.
Our first meeting had actually been in Colorado in 2003 not long after I had been consecrated bishop. Martin and his wife were guests of The Church of the Ascension, Pueblo, and their rector, Ephraim Radner, brought them to the Diocesan Office to meet me, the "new bishop." I am sorry to say that at the time I had never heard of Burundi. But two years later, quite to my surprise, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, asked me to go to there to represent The Episcopal Church at the enthronement of their new Archbishop, Bernard Ntahotori. It was an experience I will never forget--a country just emerging from years of war, the challenges of rebuilding and development in the face of staggering poverty, the joyous celebration of a new archbishop, and Martin (quite the linguist), right in the middle of it, translating tirelessly so that we could all understand one another.
It's just one short story that is emblematic of the many stories of the many relationships that are being made, renewed, and strengthened here, and Bishop Martin wanted me to be sure express his thanks for his friends at Ascension, Pueblo and the support they have given to the ministry of The Diocese of Makamba (hence the video).
Even more importantly, it puts me in mind of all the connections that The Diocese of Colorado has throughout this global communion--Christ Church in Denver with Bishop James Ochiel of Kenya; Church of the Transfiguration in Vail with Archbishop Valentine Mokiwa of Tanzania(who was also present at our Diocesan Convention in 2005); the Colorado Haiti Project with Bishop Zache Duracin of Haiti; many friends and supporters throughout Colorado with Archbishop Daniel Deng and other Sudanese bishops; and others with Bishop Miguel Tamayo of Cuba and Uruguay (who is also in my bible study). There are more, but these are just a few that come easily to mind.
Every one of these relationships are life-giving in the fullest sense of the expression, and as my visit yesterday with Bishop Martin reminded me, it's pretty basic.
In our post-colonial, post-modern, and still emergent Communion, it becomes particularly important to simply to sit at table with one another and be willing to keep doing the work of translation.