Serving the High Plains

Finding my roots already planted in Tucumcari

I blinked, and it’s November.

Along with our usual flurry of activity with jobs and life and an eclectic crew of animals, my husband Wayne and I have had the added joy of serving as commissioned pastors of First Presbyterian Church in Tucumcari. We’ve been making the trip for just about six months now. It’s a labor of love for us.

We’d left our long-time church back in 2020. It’s never an easy choice to leave a church, especially when you’ve established roots. There’s a saying attributed to Sean Patrick Flanery: “Do not ask God to guide your footsteps if you’re not willing to move your feet.” We lived that. It was easier for Wayne than it was for me; he has a Mary personality, and I’m a zooming Martha.

I was also afraid of losing that piece of my dad. When I stood in the pulpit, my dad was always in my direct line of sight. My dad and I bickered over his tea coffee in the narthex, which was so pale you could see through it. I would sneak up to church on Saturday night to get more coffee in the pot. He eventually figured that out, and then got there before I did to take some of the grounds out. There wasn’t a corner of that church where I didn’t see my dad. So, leaving felt like I was leaving him, even though I had the family blessing.

We closed that door, and waited for the next one to open.

Prior to being placed in Tucumcari as commissioned pastors, we spent our time traveling and serving the Presbytery of Sierra Blanca. During the pandemic, we met people where they were, whether it meant hopping in the car, going up the block, or online. We delivered bread, church supplies, books, groceries. We “sat” with hospice patients virtually, and had prayer groups and hymn sings online.

If you can’t/don’t sing well in real life, it doesn’t get any better virtually. Still, there was something joyous about people gathering as they could and celebrating with song.

I look upon our six months in Tucumcari with such gratitude. We have had some technological issues that are challenging to overcome. I can’t make a Bluetooth speaker work inside the church, but I can sure send special music to Bluetooth hearing aids.

We’ve had bulletin bloopers and duplicate music and a few other snafus; I’m grateful for the grace extended to us. Most of all, we’ve had a lot of laughter and love.

The roots I was afraid of losing when we left were planted long before we arrived in Tucumcari. My dad drove the same roads we do now, having served Tucumcari for several years. I took a few trips with him for visitations. I sit in the sanctuary, and I see him. I sit in fellowship hall, and I see him. I listen to the stories shared by the congregation, and I see him. I send music to Bluetooth hearing aids, and I hear him laugh. When I stand in the pulpit telling stories about him, I see him roll his eyes.

Not a lot has changed, I suppose. Even in a different setting, I’m still able to follow along in his footprints.

As Johnny Cash sang, “Children, Go Where I send Thee.” Thanks for clearing the way, Dad.

Patti Dobson writes about faith for The Eastern New Mexico News and Quay County Sun. Contact her at:

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