Dear Caley

Dear Caley,

Minutes after I walked into City Church’s women’s retreat last month, I saw you listening intently to someone as tears filled your eyes.

“That’s our Caley,” I thought.

After you laughed with the group about how you were crying before the retreat even started, I sent you this text—maybe you remember it:

I inherently and deeply trust people who cry easily and often, fyi

When I started putting together the list of people I wanted to reach out to for this Cosmos to Chaos series, you came to mind for three reasons:

  1. I’ve known you for years, but I had only a vague idea of what you do in your daily work; I wanted to understand it better.
  2. You’re someone who wears multiple hats in multiple settings. Chaos seemed like something with which you’d be familiar.
  3. I knew you’d just put it all out there because, well, you’re our Caley.

During our conversation I found it quite telling that when I asked what you do, it gave you pause. You eventually landed on government relations consultant and mother to Harry, Annie, and Palmer, but before you got there, I could see the wheels in your head turning. It was as if you were asking yourself, “What do I do?”

If I were answering that question for you, my first impulse would be to say: “A lot. You do a lot.” But while that’s a true answer, it’s not a complete one.

In looking at your daily work through the lens of bringing cosmos to chaos, of God’s image-bearers creating order, I just keep nodding. As a government relations consultant splitting your time between working for an agriculture lobbyist in DC and providing administrative and communications support for trade unions here in Virginia, you spend much of your time just making sure you know what’s going on. You scour the news, sift through government notices, and track regulation processes, looking for what needs to be known by your clients. Then you distill all of that down into something that helps them.

So much of this work relies on A) institutional knowledge that only comes from experience and B) your ability to process vast amounts of constantly changing information and make something actionable out of it. You take these massive, nebulous things made up of moving parts and, using your knowledge and wisdom, guide those parts to where they need to go. You’re ushering chaos into cosmos.

You’re a shepherd. That’s what you do.

I can hear you laughing as I write that, but it’s true.

Now think about that role within the context of what you and your husband are doing every day at home. In addition to your “day job,” you and Andy are in the business of raising three little sinners—sinners whom I know and love, but sinners nonetheless. You’re a shepherd for them, too. As you remind your kids to make their beds, you’re shepherding them towards the habit of creating order of their own. As you play Slugs and Bugs in the car for them for the 734th time, you’re shepherding them towards Jesus, the true and lasting Cosmos.

I’ll say it again, this time with feeling—imagine me holding your face in my hands:

You are a shepherd, Caley White Crawford. 

You and your family have lived a lot of life these last few years—years that haven’t always been kind. But through the chaos, you remain humble and faithful. I think of you when I read this quote from Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, the inspiration behind this series:

“Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities and sudden, startling joys.”

You know tragedy, ambiguity, and joy; you’ve felt them yourself and you feel them for other people—that’s obvious in your tears. I am one of many who is grateful for your vulnerability and willingness to say (I’m paraphrasing): “This world is chaos. It is NOT supposed be like this. But Jesus is who He says He is, and we’re going with that.”

And you press on, encouraging us all to do the same, whether you know it or not. Every single day you use your wisdom and experience as best you can to guide others towards where they need to be. Does it always work? No. But as you said during our time together, “God has called me to work, however that looks…so I’m here.” And you keep doing it. You stay here, you keep working, you keep shepherding.

Is there a sweeter way to image God, Caley?

So I pray that when you feel overwhelmed, when you feel like you’ve dropped the ball, when life hurts too much, you remember that your labor is not in vain; the God who made you is with you. And in those moments when the shepherding feels more like wandering, I pray you remember and lean on our Good Shepherd who knows the way and knows His own.

That includes you.

Grace and peace,

Val

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