"MY ACADEMIC HOOD" by Paul Heller:
"When I graduated from seminary, I acquired a handsome three-foot-long purple-red-gold-and-black academic hood signifying the degree I'd earned. As a Presbyterian minister I wore it over my black robe for special ceremonies, ordinations and installations.
"One day I opened my closet and it was not there. I couldn't remember when I'd last worn it or where I'd left it, but I quickly prayed that it was not lost.
"At the time, I was pastor of a small congregation in the western hills of New York's huge Adirondack Forest Preserve. Then I was extended a call to serve as minister of a larger congregation in a more urban area on the shores of Lake Champlain. After considerable soul-searching, I accepted the call, but I prayed for reassurance that my decision was the right one.
"I was greeted warmly by the staff and congregation at the new church. I had fond memories of a visit I had made there eight years earlier for an installation ceremony, but it was only when I opened the closet door in my new office that I knew I had done the right thing in coming to this church, this time to stay.
"There I discovered my hood, waiting for me as it had waited patiently for eight years."