As an unrepentant female I hesitate to note here that some men do indeed give birth. This particular incident has not been the happy nine months within the pampered heart of nubile fecundity, but rather an extended gestation stretching into years marked by false labor and peculiar urgings amid great huffings and puffings which sometimes came to naught. However, I think there’s a light at the end of the birth canal, and am I ever glad! This has been pregnancy by committee, a far-flung group of individuals who were inseminated by a virile idea over a period of ten years. (We can fight over the details of that at a later time).
In 1991, Clayton Crawley proposed to Frank Hemlin a device that popped into a computer and could be harnessed to work for overworked clergy needing help creating liturgies to empower the flock. At that time, one might say, it was a gleam in Fr. Crawley’s eye. However, as the gospel of John tells us, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bearsmuchfruit.”Manymoonscameand went as the grain lay buried until Church Publishing discovered the computer and said, “Eureka!” Then the first RITE children were born: brother BRAIN, sisters WORD and LIGHT, and brother SONG. Thus we begin our tale.
One nice day in April of 1997 following an Associated Parishes Council meeting at Holy Cross Monastery, four liturgical malcontents–Juan Oliver, Clayton Crawley, Clay Morris, and Marilyn Haskel–gathered in a small restaurant somewhere between West Park and New York City to break bread and hatch the idea that was insistently pecking at its shell to see the light. It seemed so obvious and yet frightening in its magnitude. If Associated Parishes could think it, could Church Publishing produce it? Fr. Oliver stressed it must insist upon and teach the best of liturgical practice. The others agreed and added their concern to cool the brow of the long-suffering liturgical planner who struggles through many dusty tomes and deals with the heartbreak of typos.Themalcontents were invigorated, energized, turned on and pumped up to get this timely tool onto the market. Thus was conceived the idea of what is now affectionatelynamedas THERITESTUFF,A Liturgical Planning Tool for the Episcopal Church.
Dreams developed the myriad qualities of this small new life. As with many expectant parents, no horizon was left imagined but unexplored. This child would be able to leap historical buildings in a single bound! A liturgist would say, “What?” and THE RITE STUFF would say “This!” Asking “Where?” a reply would roar back, “Here!” It was a heady incubation. Over the months and years the aunts and uncles, grandparents, and in-laws of the Associated Parishes Council and Church Publishing contributed opinions, advice, home remedies and a few old wives’ (and husbands’) tales. All was taken in and digested.
Then collective ankles began to swell and once-comfortable chairs became devices of physical entrapment. During several three-day stints of wading through multiple four-inch thick notebooks heavy laden with hypertext mark-up language, the four malcontents, in agony, groaned, “Surely do wish we’d have this baby.”
Following the poking and pulling at the Alpha 2 tests and Beta 1 and 2, the testing phase of THE RITE STUFF is accomplished. (Thank God this process doesn’t begin with Omega!) The ultrasound revealsalarge, healthybabythatwillemerge from the womb December 20th fully formed and preternaturally sophisticated in the ways of the Anglican liturgical world. Praise be to God who gives us the victory!