“Do you have any questions?”
This was a set-up question asked by a wonderfully young vascular surgeon, who had just inspected the wound on my knee. I liked him. I’m probably twice his age and I couldn’t resist teasing him a bit about asking such an open-ended question. He engaged and said he wasn’t really there to talk about weather, politics, etc., so I paraphrased a Margaret Wheatley quote that I had recently encountered, “Out of chaos comes grace.” The quote is a comfort in the midst of our current political and international situations.
He responded, “Are you a Christian?” I replied that I was a retired Episcopal priest, and what ensued next was a delightful conversation that burned up his valuable time. I left Providence St. Joseph Hospital with my spirits uplifted and a spring in my step. I had engaged with a new physician, a Christian, who would be part of my ongoing care.
My two falls last summer, following the death of my dear wife, have layered chaos into my daily life. Trips to St. Joe’s wound care clinic and multiple visits from home health nurses regularly interrupt my schedule. In this journey I have met some wonderful and very sweet people who care abundantly. In my gratitude, I want to gift them little miniature bistro chairs that I craft from the odd champagne cork baskets that I have collected over the years. They are a pittance of the gratitude that I feel.
Gratitude was not my initial response to the Church of Our Saviour, San Gabriel. The observations and data I had collected over fifteen years ago as a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles suggested that this was a starched and stuffed shirt place, and certainly not my kind of place. Yet, the Grace of Holy Spirit concocted a strange series of circumstances that led my daughter Hannah to sing beside the Senior Warden in the choir of said church. The rest is a hurricane. (I call my two daughters the “Hurricane Sisters” because they have a such positive energy between them, and when they’re together in my presence, they leave me exhausted, full of wonder, and grateful.)
Hannah’s dive into the life of Church of Our Saviour has revealed to me some of the hiccups in the history of this congregation. But Holy Spirit has brought Jeff and Annie, Thomas, Tim, dear Deacon Bill, and all of the countless wonderful people of this place to breathe God‘s spirit into our shared chaos, and bring about new creation and new life. And now, I too have been embraced into this family in Christ.
My gratitude responses are several. I am so grateful for the caring and the support that I have received from the folks of this congregation. I am grateful to have a venue to share gifts that God has generously given me. I am grateful to be a part of what I believe Holy Spirit is working here. How could I not want to be a part of this?
After the recent death of my dear wife, my ongoing budget is not yet clear. However, in the faith that God will always provide, I am making a generous financial commitment, a pledge, to support God’s ongoing work in this place. This is a “reverse” salary—I pay to get to work here! I do it with gratitude and with joy in my heart.