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Poetry Capturing Our 26 Years of Leadership

Posted on October 1st, 2013

This poem by Emily Ruth Hazel, a poet in our church, was written and dedicated to us at our 26th Celebration on Sept. 27th, 2013. It captured the essence of our lives, leadership, ministry, and transition at NLF. Enjoy!

“Under These Green Leaves”

by Emily Ruth Hazel
Dedicated to Pastors Pete and Geri Scazzero
Presented September 27, 2013
Queens, New York City

Twenty-six years to arrive at
this day. Another doorway:
after all the transformations
you have ushered us through,
now we frame this space for you.

What started growing years ago
in a sidewalk crack in Queens
has taken hold—its roots
now reaching deep, uplifting even concrete.
The ministry you planted has become
a canopy of shade and shelter.
Only God could have imagined
these generous branches,
how wide they would spread.
Under these green leaves,
the next generation is emerging
out of this fertile ground.

In the beginning, you stood alone
at the edge of what you knew
as waves redefined their boundaries
and brought you to your knees.
You waded in and walked out
your convictions with courage.
Letting God revise your stories,
you’ve inspired us to offer up
our own imperfect journeys.

We have learned from you
how to recognize the God who comes to us
disguised as a choir director,
keeping us in tune with the Spirit;
as an electrician, untwisting our thinking,
untangling communication wires;
as a surgeon, carefully opening our hearts
that we may be healed.

You have taught us to work with purpose,
whatever we do, and to savor
the taste of Sabbath; to listen
and to honestly express
our flammable, fragile feelings
without trespassing upon
the dignity of others.

You have shown us how to move beyond
the walls between us and within us.
You have given us language for living,
handed us tools to build bridges
across Queens Boulevard,
all those lanes of international traffic.

For inviting us into the conversation
of your lives; for realigning the spines
of so many families, one couple at a time;
for shepherding us toward
those still waters that are still waiting
for us to rest beside them,
ready to reflect us back to ourselves—
we will always be grateful to you.

May you be filled at God’s table
of abundance as you have filled us
like hand-rolled cannoli.
May you be blessed for multiplying
your family recipe for loving well;
for kneading new rhythms
into our daily bread; for serving
this locally grown community
your wild-caught wisdom.

We have taped your words
inside our medicine cabinets,
and morning by morning,
we are refreshed by remembering.
May you too be washed
by holy words hidden within
the ordinary moments of the day
as you are renewed when you wake
to the smell of ocean breezes in the summer.
May you leave your doors propped open
and let the wind of the Spirit
blow through you, carrying seeds of new life
to every corner of the world.

May God be your trusted travel agent
and may peace be your companion,
quiet in the backseat,
when you are on the right road,
though you may never know
where you are going.
May you always be willing to stop
and ask for directions,
even if the answer is simply, Go south.
As you keep climbing,
may grace be the only rock
on which you stand.
And in the silence of the desert,
may cactus flowers surprise you
like a sunset breaking into bloom.

May you be welcomed
everywhere your travels take you;
may you linger in doorways like this one
long enough to be embraced.
And as the word goes forth,
may you pause to be present
here in this bright moment,
God leading you, and us,
into the next.

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