Tangled

Joe and Amy with Maya and Kira and Rev. Jacqui Foxall on the day of the girls’ baptism.

I’ve been putting off writing this because, my goodness, what can I possibly say?

I came to this magazine back in 2003—fresh out of J-school and not really even knowing if this journalism gig was for me.

And I’m still unsure.

What I am sure of, however, is that this magazine changed my life. Well, maybe not changed it so much as wrote the last 13 years of it.

I was raised Catholic and knew absolutely zero of the Presbyterian Church. But upon coming to the Record, I promptly got my butt to my local Presbyterian congregation (St. Andrew’s, Brampton, Ont., at the time) to figure out what it was all about. Fast forward a year, and I was married in that church. Speed along four years, and my husband and I welcomed our first child—a life change that the Record enabled me to negotiate beautifully by allowing a work-life balance many only dream of. Zip along another almost four years and our second daughter was born, and a year or so after that, we found a new Presbyterian church home in Oakville, where we are now members and where both our girls were baptized.

Working for the Record and having a team of like-minded colleagues has meant that my family never had to come second. (Or not often, anyway!) As long as the magazine went out, I was free to plan my days at will; I was volunteering in the classroom, tagging along on my daughters’ field trips, taking time to attend during-the-day school assemblies that my kids were a part of, and dropping them off at school myself and picking them up as well. This has been such a monumental blessing—and one for which I will be forever grateful.

I am now closely involved in my church—something I’m not sure would have happened had I not been so connected to the denomination as a whole. I’m so connected, in fact, that once the Record winds up, my main prospect and hope is focused on a new project in a neighbouring presbytery I’m hoping and praying will get off the ground.

Along the way there have been many exciting travels—when I went to Ethiopia only a few months after joining the Record, it was my first international adventure. The only other time I’d been on a plane was when I headed to Alberta for college, and just about my only other non-Canadian trip was to Disney World when I was nine. But I loved every minute of Ethiopia, and I was hooked—hooked on international travel, sure, but even more so on the idea of mission: on what it means and the ways it can and should be carried out and the awesome opportunities for connection, community-building and empowerment it can afford.

I have met, and chatted with, and gone for coffee with, and dreamed with, and argued with, and established what I hope are lifelong friendships with such a huge array of wonderful people whom I can only assume I would never have met had it not been for my job.

My stories in the Record have mirrored my faith journey; I can remember sitting in religion class as a child, wishing so badly that I had known Jesus when he walked the earth. But the idea of discipleship, that faith is not just about your beliefs but is a way of life, revealed itself more and more to me as I wrote for the Record (and read other people’s words that have appeared here). It is fitting, then, that my final story for this magazine is about something I have slowly come to discover as the Truth—the need for a relationship- and justice-focused faith that author and activist Shane Claiborne so passionately promotes.

This job and this church have touched nearly every aspect of my life, and saying goodbye will be no easy task. This job has not been merely something I go to in the morning and come home from at night; it has not merely been a paycheque; it has not merely been something I suffer through each day until the bell goes (and there have been some of those days!). It has been intricately connected to who I am, to who my family is, to who my friends are, to how I spend my time. My faith life and my work life and my family life and my extra-curricular life are all tangled up together—all a part of and influenced by this job, this magazine, this church.

How, exactly, does one move on from that? How do you begin the untangling? And once you do, does the whole thing unravel?

I haven’t even mentioned the actual job—how it took me from a know-nothing novice writer to an editor who now marks up others’ stories with red pen; who shapes stories and issues, and crafts ideas and relationships with writers; and how it has taught me to hone my own writing skills; and how, finally, just a couple of years ago, led me to finding my voice—that enigmatic thing any writer must discover—a thing that enables you to let your soul speak.

Of course this is all thanks to the wonderful people I work with on this magazine—David and Andrew and Connie and Caroline and Salina and Debb. Partners-in-crime, like-minded lunatics, supporters, enablers, chastisers. Family.

To borrow the words of Record board member, Andrew Cornell, who penned our editorial in October, it has been “a beautiful life” indeed.

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About Amy MacLachlan

Amy MacLachlan is the Presbyterian Record’s managing editor.