Seek. Name. Celebrate.


From AshleyJane

When my niece Faye was young, she had a beloved blanky named “Sniff” who she brought with her everywhere she went. My dad, who was her nanny at the time, used to bring Faye over to my house for a visit at least once a week. During one of these visits, Faye slid Sniff across the table towards me and told me that she had been waiting to see me because Sniff had a little tear and she was hoping I could mend him. When I found out later that neither her parents or my dad had suggested she ask me – it was entirely her idea – I felt so “wanted.” I’m choked up now just thinking about it. As someone who doesn’t have a child myself, I was especially touched that Faye trusted me to mend her beloved Sniff. I suspect over my whole life, that will always be the thing I am most proud of. 

(During quarantine, I found out that I had been accepted by the seminary at Sewanee, and this is a photo from the day my Sewanee sweatshirt arrived in the mail.)

From Jerry

I am going back about 15 years. I had recently been elected Sr. Warden of St. Paul’s. The parish was in a bit of an upheaval after the departure of the former Rector. There were also some personal issues and although I did not know it at the time, the economy was soon to be disrupted as well.

I was on a solo retreat at Emery House, run by the brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist. It is winter. A clear sky, which in New England translates into a very cold night, but the celestial bodies are shining brightly. The hymn In the Bleak Midwinter comes to mind. I am walking up from the one room cabins where we stay while on retreat to the main house for Evening Prayer, dinner, and later Compline. Soon I sense a presence walking with me. No, it is not Jesus; it is my father, dead for over 8 years. He does not say anything but just walks with me. When we reach the main house, he puts his hand on my shoulder, smiles, and vanishes.

My father was a strong influence in my life. He always supported me in whatever I was doing and frequently, through words and examples, gave me the strength to push through the tougher things in life. I felt a sense of relieve and a renewed belief that I could somehow muddle through the coming years. This proved to be accurate as we later called Kate as our new Rector.

Later in the retreat, with the counsel of one of the brothers, I was able to tie this experience to scripture in Matthew 11: 28-30.

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

I have carried this memory with me ever since, including the mantra of the scripture, and it has served me well. Strength is often found in the silence.


From Kate

It will probably come as no surprise to you that the people with whom God has blessed me in a special way, are my St. Paul’s  family. During this time of sheltering at home, there is something that lifts my spirits every time I experience it. I describe it as “looking at a checkerboard of beloved faces.” It is my computer screen — when I’m attending a Zoom coffee hour, or a vestry meeting, or EfM, or a recording session with our lectors, or any other Zoom gathering with parishioners. Every inch of my screen is filled with the faces of people who — up until a couple of months ago — I saw in person nearly every week.

My checkerboard of beloved faces lifts my spirits — but, to be honest, it also breaks my heart. Because I miss you all so very much. Staying home, staying apart, keeping ourselves safe, these are the top priorities just now. But the day will come when we can hug again. Thanks be to God! 


From Gail

Spring. 1990. I’m the penny-pinching single mother of four kiddos under 10. At a local store I find vegetable seeds for just 10 cents a packet! Lettuce, beans, cukes, carrots, beets, onions – even pumpkin seeds for fun. And all dated for this year. Perfect! In due time, the bargain seeds germinate and flourish in our 25’ x 40’ garden, and our family savors the bountiful harvest. By fall, after each child has chosen a pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern, I discover that I have loads of extra pumpkins. Loads. The local grocery buys them for 15 cents a pound – and I receive a check for $15.00.

Spring. 1990. I’m the penny-pinching single mother of four kiddos under 10. At a local store I find vegetable seeds for just 10 cents a packet! Lettuce, beans, cukes, carrots, beets, onions – even pumpkin seeds for fun. And all dated for this year. Perfect! In due time, the bargain seeds germinate and flourish in our 25’ x 40’ garden, and our family savors the bountiful harvest. By fall, after each child has chosen a pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern, I discover that I have loads of extra pumpkins. Loads. The local grocery buys them for 15 cents a pound – and I receive a check for $15.00.

My God dazzles me with bounty and generosity. May I do likewise. 


From Rev. Nancy

Before COVID-19, I had an opportunity to re-connect with an old friend, the priest who sponsored me for ordination. We enjoyed breakfast together, then sat in the booth catching up on each other’s lives. My friend took my hands and said, “I want to tell you something: I am so thankful for the privilege of sharing your journey in ministry with you. I am proud of you, and I love you.” Tears came to my eyes, and I told him how thankful I was for his willingness to welcome me into his life in a way that had given me so much, had helped me to recognize and respond to a vocation, and had supported me through prayer over decades. While this moment of

shared gratitude is very precious, I am reminded that there have been so many lives that have intersected with mine that are the community of friends, mentors, colleagues, and each one of them is an extraordinary gift to me. I am surrounded by “clouds of witnesses,” here and now, and I want to say “Thank you” to as many as I can. So, I have been writing more notes and letters to many of these dear ones, including some that I have not seen or spoken with in decades, and buying lots of stamps! Expressing gratitude is a way of strengthening the bonds of community (and family), and it honors God whose grace has woven our lives together. My mother was right: it’s important to send a “thank you note”!


From Jean

This time of physical distancing makes me realize what an important part of my life are my children and the church.  I moved from Oregon to New Hampshire to live close to my children, who live in New England and New York.  I was getting together with them for lunch, usually every month.  We can’t do this now, but we are getting together on Zoom.  It’s not quite the same, but as I see and talk with them I feel like I am with them.  Another thing that I really miss is worshiping together at St. Paul’s.  I am grateful for the worship services I can view on the computer – Kate and others at St. Paul’s on Sundays and during the week and Bishop Rob on Sundays.  But it’s not the same as worshiping together with everyone in St. Paul’s church.  Some day this “social isolation” will end and I will share lunch with my children and the Eucharist with my parish family.  In the meantime I thank God for the opportunity I have to be with everyone on the computer.  


From Maria

My life is truly like a quilt I have experienced great pain but also excruciating joy.

I believe that from all the pain the worst one was when I miscarriage 6 babies but when I thought I couldn’t hurt more my Savior gave me a joy that covered the pain in the form of two miracles my two daughters. He didn’t stop there because His love for me was so amazing that He Blessed me with five grandchildren.

His pain was greater than mine yet His unconditional love for me brings me so much joy.  I celebrate each day the pain because I know there’s joy around the corner. I have to give Him all the glory, Alleluia!

This picture is of our family and unbekown to us  grandchild number five is comfortably in her mommy’s belly. The second one is of Lucia now 6 our fifth grandchild.


From Heather

The Music Director in my childhood church – Bob Harder – was a dynamic and memorable man. Without a doubt his encouragement to stick with the organ, choir, and church music had a lifelong impact on this now-grown liturgical musician who at the time couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7. Our families each moved in different directions after that shared season, but I heard that Bob had passed away about three years ago. I’m hoping that from his celestial view, Mr. Harder can see fruit of the seeds he planted.

My Aunt Madeline has an unmistakably God-given heart for children. More to the point, her love of children and her love of Jesus means that she wants to see as many children come into loving relationship with Jesus as possible! She and her husband grew a successful Christian charter school in Toronto, but on a more personal level Aunt Madeline would not rest until she was sure that I knew that Jesus loves me. Her simple faith, which remained childlike through her adulthood, was pure.

And to my selfie? … well, my quarantine has been about spending all day every day with my cat! I mean, sure, yes, Larry is the best partner and companion I could ask for, but for cute pictures Mr. Bates takes the cake! He joined me at work the other day 


Deb

I’ve been using Daily Devotions for Families and Individuals (BCP p. 137) most mornings. I read the daily lectionary Gospel passage as the reading, but instead of a hymn I am often accompanied by purring. My daughter’s cat Gwen enjoys both meditating and praying and joins me in both. I started this practice as a way to structure daily reflection on scripture, and I use a suggestion I heard Presiding Bishop Michael Curry give (on the Way of Love podcast) to meditate on the Word by focusing on a word or phrase from the reading. I try to get out of my own way and just be open to which phrase jumps out. When my mind wanders — as all our minds do — I let the gentle purring bring me back to the present moment. When I’m ready, I move on to the rest of “In the Morning” on p. 137. At night I use a brief Examen: bring my attention to God’s presence, spend a few minutes reflecting on how God was with me and working through me and others over the course of day, pray about any regrets or sorrows, joys and appreciations, close with the Lord’s Prayer. There is a temptation to make structure a checklist or a chore, so I try to be flexible but disciplined. I’m working on expressing awe or gratitude and not just reviewing my (or the world’s) shortcomings.


Edie

Even though we are apart from so many loved ones it has been wonderful to not feel totally isolated. My family, friends, and EfM group have helped me to feel a strong sense of community. I decided to try to learn to make things such as masks, hand sanitizer, and certain foods that I could share. Hopefully these things will help reduce the spread of Covid and help others as well. More than ever this quote seems true:  “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


Kristin

Matthew 5:13: You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?

During this period of isolation due to the Covid 19 virus, it is easy to feel lost, to lose our “taste”. I am a people person. I thrive on my interactions with others through face to face discussions, hugs, praying together, being together. One of the things my husband Dan and I have been doing to not feel so lost is to check in with a group of nine people that we have been friends with for over 30 years. We usually share a meal and fellowship together once a month, and have done this for all those years and now can’t. A hastily scheduled Zoom call made that possible for us to “see” everyone on a night that we would have been enjoying time together, but couldn’t. This half hour call, seeing this group of friends all together, being together as best we can at this time, was a needed lift to our spirits, the virtual hug that we craved, the restoring of “taste” for all of us.

Thank you for Zoom calls, and restored saltiness!


Are you interested in participating?

  1. Email AJ at office@stpaulsconcord.org if you are interested in participating. She will email you two prompt options.
  2. Write a short (4-12 sentence) response using your choice of the two prompts.
  3. Optional: Take a photo of yourself (selfies are fine!) showing us an aspect of your life during this time of physical distancing – it could be you in your garden, with a book, building something, etc.
  4. Email your response and the (optional) photo to AJ at office@stpaulsconcord.org by May 10th at the latest.
  5. Enjoy seeing your own and others’ responses posted on social media and on the St. Paul’s website during the month of May!