The Very Reverend Tracey Lind has announced that after 17 years as Dean of Trinity Cathedral, Cleveland, she will step down from her position on January 29th, 2017. Lind was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Degeneration, news she received earlier this month during a week of celebrations for the bicentennial anniversary of the cathedral. She told her congregation in a letter that the disease, although in its early stages, was beginning make her job more difficult; hence her decision to retire in the new year. Lind’s contributions to the faith and landscape of the city of Cleveland were recognized in an editorial tribute published by the Plain Dealer over the weekend.
CHEERS . . . to the Very Rev. Tracey Lind, dean of Trinity Cathedral, the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, who is stepping down from her post Jan. 29 after 17 years at the helm. Lind has disclosed to her congregation and the public that she was recently diagnosed with Frontotemporal Degeneration, a progressive disorder of the brain that was making it increasingly difficult for her to do her job.
The Very Rev. Tracey Lind, a leader in the Cleveland faith community, will step down from her position at Trinity Cathedral after the holiday season.
Such frankness is no surprise. Lind was one of the first openly gay clergy to become an Episcopal cathedral dean.
Her good works are numerous: Lind helped develop Trinity Commons, the downtown campus of the cathedral, and the Greater Cleveland Congregations, the interfaith coalition. She opened the cathedral to everyone from the homeless who needed a meal to office workers who enjoyed music. Lind has been a difference-maker in Cleveland.
In her first sermon to the congregation following the announcement of her diagnosis and upcoming departure, Lind was characteristically practical, and hopeful.
I will finish my work here on Sunday, January 29, 2017. I have met with the Bishop, Wardens, and Vestry to prepare for a timely and orderly transition. Equipped with a very strong and dedicated team of leaders – lay and ordained, paid and volunteer – I am confident that this 200 year-old church is in good hands. I am also confident that in due time, you will call a great dean to serve, love and grow this wonderful congregation and lead this amazing cathedral into its third century. …
When asked if I’m scared about what the future holds, my answer is “not really” (at least not right this moment). I’m anxious about not working – what I will do with my days, who I will be without my title, how I will continue to feel useful in this world; but all of us face those questions when we step down from long and satisfying careers. With God’s help (and the wisdom of those who have gone before me), I’ll find my way.
Am I frightened of the disease? Sure. I’m afraid of becoming a burden to Emily, and when I allow myself to go there, I’m afraid of not being able to live and die with dignity. However, my prayer right now is to have a clean heart and a right spirit so that I might live and die with grace. Interesting, that’s been my daily morning prayer for a long time, and now it’s even more important to my wellbeing and to those around me.
Am I afraid of the end? Naturally, I don’t want to suffer or waste away as I die, but I’m not afraid of death. I really do believe that death is the gateway to eternal life – or as The Rev. Barbara Crafton, our Advent retreat leader has written, the door to the “alsolife.” Frankly, though I don’t want to rush it, I’m curious about eternity.
For most of my life, I’ve had an intentional, ongoing, and somewhat intimate relationship with God. While I’ve never believed that my prayer life or my spiritual practice was good enough – that is, routine and by the book, I’ve come to realize that my faithful, lifelong conversation with God is my spiritual practice. And now, I’m counting it; actually, I’m holding onto it, like a life raft. I am convinced that out of brokenness comes wholeness, out of pain comes joy, out of fear comes courage, and out of death comes new life. That is God’s promise made known to us in Jesus, and I believe it.
Friends – this God-thing is real. Don’t let anyone try to talk you out of it.
Disclaimer: Trinity Cathedral, under the pastoral direction of Dean Lind, sponsored this author for ordination.
Photo: The Very Reverend Tracey Lind, www.trinitycleveland.org