In A Dresser of Sycamore Trees: The Finding of a Ministry, Garret Keizer writes about some of the high and low points in his spiritual journey in the small town of Island Pond, Vermont. Eleven years ago, when he was 26, the author visited an Anglican monastery to determine whether he should be a writer, a doctor, or a priest. During this struggle to understand his vocation, Keizer found himself identifying with the Biblical story of the Gerasene demoniac tormented by a legion of voices inside.
Eventually, like Amos who was called from his regular labor as a herdsman and dresser of sycamore trees to preach the word, Keizer became a lay vicar of an Episcopal church in Island Pond while maintaining a job as a high school English teacher. He recounts a few of the surprises involved in preaching, visiting members of the congregation, holding special programs at the church, and burying the dead.
Keizer salutes the inspiration he's received from his mentor, the Reverend Robert Castle, who gave him "the sense of the Gospel as something real and important and liberating and full of high adventure." He's also grateful to his parishioners, an old man in a nursing home, and a utopian commune of literalists for sharpening his pastoral and prophetic abilities.
A Dresser of Sycamore Trees makes a good case for part-time ministers who are savvy to the ways of the world and the tricky maneuvers of the Holy Spirit. Keizer's labors in this small parish are polished parables about patience, humility, and giving all the glory to God.