So, I have wanted to write about Shannon Garrett for many months. I have applied the usual thought processes to do so. He is a person who matters. However, the right words have simply escaped me. Frustrating!
Shannon has worn many hats in our congregational lives at Brentwood United Methodist Church, all with seeming ease and all with clearly evident gifts and talents, backed by an accomplished education including a doctorate. On a personal note, I have always been in awe of his voice, the way he could, and would, sing……my awe not confined to his personal talent, but the way his music translated to praise and worship. God was fully present in those notes, those words.
He presently serves as Pastor of Congregational Care. An understatement! I write, though, as a friend, not as commentary on his staff role.
Rather than recite a litany of his bio here……or his accomplishments, which are many, I want to draw the picture I see…..the reason he inspires, not just me, but many. Yes, I know that to be true!
And I find that attempt not possible in the way I intend. I realize who he is won’t allow mere words, or facts, or evaluation. That has really bugged me…..for several weeks! Shannon is worth knowing (about)!
I am left with writing about what I see, what I have Iearned, and will continue to learn, from Shannon. What he inspires in his every day life, clearly not confined to the work setting! His calling knows no schedule!
First and foremost, Shannon believes the gospel story. He can sing that story to the heavens! He believes in the hope it brings, the light it brings, the love it brings, the Christ it brings, the grace it brings, the salvation it promises, victory over death. Amen!
I realize you may wonder at those words! He is, after all, a pastor! Like most pastors, he has a unique path….one determined by God and accepted by his call! He walks the story.
But, guess what? He believes that story includes everyone, all the time, regardless of where they may be on the journey! He knows, actually knows, people different than he is……that statement should not represent an uncommon view, but it is becoming more and more true and more and more acceptable, even encouraged! But, he does. I mean really knows……in committed time spent together, in prayers, in intentional, not always convenient, ways!
Shannon shares God’s light, his grace, his love, with those who are suffering addiction. Not an easy road for sure. One that, no doubt, requires ongoing prayers on bended knees……one that requires great flexibility, resilience, perseverance. One that requires faith…in every sense of the word. He doesn’t give up on his new friends. He values their very being, as God does. He knows the importance of supportive community, even on the days that community may be one person…him. I feel comfortable making these statements because I have heard him speak to these needs anecdotally as well as professionally. Though he makes it clear he is not serving as a professional counselor, he is serving another way. He is a pastor in the truest sense of the word. He is a friend in the truest sense of the word. He is a Christian in the truest sense of the word. He does not give up.
So, no wonder I have been at odds with words to mention him……he doesn’t fit in the box they bring! He is a reflection of God’s light, a servant who blurs the lines of loving people….to where they are until they can reach the potential God has gifted. But he stays with them for the journey, even a journey that is two steps back or one step forward. He stays the course.
I am grateful to know Shannon, that goes without saying. On the days the mission seems way out of reach or the road way too curvy, his example comes to mind. The days of joy….the days of sorrow or disappointment. He makes me realize goals, even the best goals, sometimes need to fade to the background to allow space for just loving people where they are. We need to trust God to lead.