This is my fantastic friend Kate. (The pic on the left is Kate with her amazing wife, Monica….who will get a blog of her own post someday:)). I have a number of amazing friends named Kate will get their own blog posts as well so you should know that when I refer to this Kate it is normally with her last name too…this is my fantastic friend, Kate Stewart.
Kate and I met in 2006 when I had just moved back to the Pacific Northwest and just 12 miles from my hometown. I was the new Associate Pastor at Corvallis First UMC, fresh out of seminary. I seem to remember that one of my first Sundays she came through the handshake line and introduced herself. There are people in this world that when we meet we see each other and think, “I am going to be good friends with this person.” I have learned in my adulthood to vocalize that and name it and claim it. With Kate, I didn’t have to, it was just understood that we were friends from the beginning. We probably immediately started talking about the church and theology and big ideas and laughing together. This is the way we always come together after this many years of being friends.
Here’s the thing about being friends with Kate….it can be quite the gap between seeing one another and yet it never feels like it. We pick up right where we left off, acknowledging that we have changed in the world but the conversations come back to being just as deep, the theology just as exploratory and the questions just as real. As a young pastor, it was essential to have people like this in my life.
After a couple of years, there were a few of us yearning to have theological conversation for theological conversations sake and we schemed about getting together every once in a while with a big topic, some hours together and good snacks and wine. I named it “Theolopalooza” and we met at a friend’s house and we gathered to talk. Our rules were…no just talking about work, talk about the big ideas, let’s go in depth and spend some time together. Kate was essential to this gathering because Kate’s mind works in these terms. My favorite is when she really gets going and then says, “Rambling,” as if we cared or didn’t appreciate the thoughts.
Kate Stewart comes from the Midwest and family is important in her life. She is dedicated to her people and ponders what that means often. She came to the Pacific Northwest and set up camp around Corvallis, they now live in Philomath. Recently Kate left her job because it was a) time and b) she felt as if it was time for her to explore what else it means for her to be in the world. This should speak to how incredibly brave she is for doing so. Kate is willing to discern and reflect. She is willing to explore what it means to be herself in a changing world and not stay in a job that doesn’t give life just because it’s safe and the thing to do. She and her wife are intentional in the world and know themselves on an incredible level.
Kate has always been supportive in where I am in the world and in my life. It is always a great joy to meet up for coffee or just to chat on the phone. Kate is someone that when I have an idea I know that I can come to her and she will think through it with me, get excited with me and even push my thinking to the next level. Kate is deeply spiritual and is open to what it means to be in relationship with God. She claims her spirituality while being open to other’s spirituality in an amazing way. Kate is grounded and always thoughtful. She is a friend I know I can always call on when I need to be grounded and thoughtful. She inspires that in me and continues to question me in really helpful and productive ways.
I am so thankful for this person in my life and I think we can all learn from her journey. And again, like always, this is just the tip of the iceberg that is this amazing person.