Two years ago today I was sitting on a couch in a living room in Berkeley, California. It was 2:30 in the morning. On my lap was a computer, and on that computer’s screen were three things:
- via FaceTime, my buddy Sam Sawyer with whom I was talking;
- via Bill Gates, forty open Word documents filled with soon to-be-published pieces;
- via Google Chrome, the original, prelaunch, version of The Jesuit Post.
Along with our friend and cofounder Eric Sundrup, Sam and I had been working on that first version off and on for months – and pretty much nonstop for the past couple weeks. And now it was time.
“Is everything ready?” I asked Sam.
“Yeah, I think so,” he replied.
We both paused for a second before he said, “Okay, I’m gonna flip the switch, it’s going live.”
“Okay,” I said.
Taking the imagination seriously is a distinctly Jesuit thing, but even with all the practice the three of us had with imagining – even after we’d really tried to dream big about what TJP could possibly become – we had very little idea of what flipping that switch and launching TJP would do. In my experience, it is one of the very best things to realize that one has underestimated, under-imagined, what God wants to do. I know that I certainly did not expect TJP to grow so quickly, or bloom with such variety.
I take it as a sign of the Holy Spirit that our best-laid plans have been exceeded. And seeing that has taught me that the best kind of leadership does two things: (1) says thank you, and (2) makes room for new leaders.
That’s a big part of why I’m writing this now, at the close – to say thank you to all of you who have read and challenged and supported us as we’ve figured out what exactly it is that we’ve stumbled upon. I want to say thank you to my brothers who make up the staff of TJP as well.
As Editor-in-Chief (because it means I’ve read *almost* everything we’ve published) a big part of what I’m thankful for about what TJP has become is captured in one of those pithy Jesuit sayings, one I used to hear from my superior when I was a novice: “a grace given to one of us is a grace given to all.” He was right.
Because my own spiritual life is deeper thanks to the rigorous honesty of the guys who’ve written about their own spiritual lives. And because I’ve been challenged to think more clearly about our world. And because I’ve been told stories that challenged me to look again, to see how God’s already been active in the world.
I hope that each of you reading this can say something similar. That’s what I hoped for when we started this thing, it’s why I wrote the following in my explanation of what the H we were doing:
We hope you like the site. We hope it makes you laugh sometimes and cry sometimes and pray sometimes. We hope that it will help you think about God and the Church a little differently, a little more deeply, a little more often.
I hope, for you as for me, that that’s been true over the last two years.
Today, January 24, 2014, is our two-year-birthday here at TJP, and we’re happy to share it with all of you who’ve spent time reading and listening to and watching what we’ve cobbled together. It’s also my last day as Editor-in-Chief of this project.
Not coincidentally, it’s also the first day on the job for our new Editor-in-Chief, Eric Sundrup. He’s been a part of TJP since its conception, and, quite frankly, he has skills that I do not have, skills from which the entire TJP community will benefit. We’re lucky to have him step in.
But – other than to celebrate and be grateful for it – I’ve not spent our second birthday looking back at what’s already been accomplished. Today is not a day for nostalgia. Instead, I’ve spent most of our second birthday, most of my last day at The Jesuit Post, remembering that, despite two years of good effort, I am still an under-imaginer. I’ve spent today reminding myself that I still underestimate God.
Confident as I am that my brothers who carry this work forward will continue to help you laugh and cry and think and pray a bit more, I am even more confident in such a God, a God of unmatched imagination and of great desires.
Thank you all.
Paddy Gilger, SJ