About 145 Episcopal bishops have reached the midpoint of our week-long spring retreat at Camp Allen, outside Houston. We’re talking about a lot of things. Gun violence and theological education. Climate change, human migration, and the Gaza and Ukraine wars. Changes in process for bishops accused of misconduct. Much to talk about — and yet no explicit retreat theme except to listen, reflect, and discern.

We’ve been worshipping a lot, and praying daily and urgently for Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry, who is having a pacemaker installed today. A few bishops are absent, too, in one case because of gun violence affecting parishes in their diocese. Still, many siblings to talk with — and our organizers’ decision to depend on the wisdom in the house instead of the usual guest presenters.

Call it a time of quiet preparation. For a year of crisis that is already taking a lot out of all the saints of God. For the election of a new presiding bishop at general convention in Louisville this summer. For the rest of our respective seasons as bishops. As the HOB’s secretary, Diane Jardine Bruce, called the roll, I counted 60 bishops — almost half the house — who had taken office since my consecration in the spring of 2017. In a panel discussion this morning, one colleague, about to reach the nine-year mark, reflected as though taking stock at midterm. As I began, I had fewer than ten years before mandatory retirement in October 2026 at age 72, making mine, as one veteran colleague told me back then, an extended interim episcopacy.

When I mentioned this to a table mate today, another bishop formed in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, they smiled and said that Fred Borsch, our sixth bishop, used to say, “We’re all interims.” Of course we are. You and I both. All the baptized are vicars of Christ, stewards of the church for a brief season, walking with one another a few steps along the winding road toward the realm of God, where love and justice are sovereign, and none is left behind or alone.

Trusting in the providence of Christ as head of the church is supposed to make us more joyful, less anxious, less prone to think that we have all the answers, and more curious about the narratives and differing perspectives of those around us. Remembering that we’re not in control is supposed to free us up to make the most of the opportunities we do have to make a difference for God’s glory and the sake of God’s people. Taking both these supposed-tos to the bank, exchanging them for a double measure of joy and confidence, will be my work these next two and a half years — my personal takeaway from my week in the desert at this retreat with no name.

Los Angeles is also in the House thanks the ministry of the Rev. Dr. Fennie Hsin-Fen Chang and the Rev. Katherine Feng, providing translation services for the Rt. Rev. Lennon Chang of Taiwan. Katherine and Fennie are shown here, waving from the chapel balcony. Bishop Lennon and I are planning an exchange of visits this year and next. When he offered a moving Lenten reflection at evening prayer Thursday night, Fennie’s L.A. voice was in the House’s other ear.