How strange and yet familiar to be sitting here in my office at St. Mary’s. It has literally been months since I spent any time here! It’s good to be back and I give thanks for this incredible community that has held together over the past months and through Covid-19. I want to thank each one of you for continuing to support the parish in whatever way you were able to. A dedicated team of people have worked on the grounds and I don’t think they’ve ever looked better! The buildings have needed upkeep and that’s been taken care of. Our office computer crashed and KAT and Val managed all that that entailed. A team of parishioners took on the task of preparing a plan for how to re-open the church, meeting the guidelines put in place by the Diocese. Others wrote Prayers of the People and offered reflections in the weekly Updates. The Care Team members kept in touch with people in the parish and kept us all connected and the Prayer Circle keeps us supported by prayer. And the wardens oversaw the running of the parish so that I could relax for the month of July and enjoy some holiday time. The finances are in order and transactions made in a timely manner. What an incredible parish!! I see this as testimony to how much we love St. Mary’s and are committed to this parish family. And for all this, I give thanks. And I hope you do too!
The grounds look fantastic and there’s a lovely new trellis just outside the church doors with tender young clematis starting to climb. The carpet in my office has been cleaned and it feels fresh and light in here. As I say, it’s good to be back! I know it’s not possible for people to simply drop in and say “hi,” but I am looking forward to being in touch with all of you in some way over the next few weeks. I think the best way to go about this is to make appointments to either chat on the phone or meet outside at a safe distance, weather permitting. Just call me or leave a message on my confidential phone line. I look forward to connecting.
As in the past, we are taking a break from Bible Study for the summer. But I will learn how to use Zoom and we will start again in September, either in person, by Zoom, or with a combination of the two. These months at home have changed me. Dealing with the aftermath of having the Covid virus has taught me more patience and compassion – both for myself and for people who live with fatigue and/or chronic pain. I’m happy to report that I’m feeling so much better; especially these past 2 weeks.
I’ve enjoyed being with Jim. Since Spring Break, he taught his classes by Zoom from home so we had lots of time together. And we were busy methodically pulling apart our home in Shawnigan and culling our possessions by 80%. That was a hard process initially, but the more we did it, the easier it got. Now we feel totally liberated from “stuff”!
At the end of June we moved into our tiny home (which we are tentatively calling “The Caboose”). The move took about 2 weeks because we couldn’t just bring everything at once. Each box had to be emptied and the contents put in place before another box could be brought into the limited space. It was a time-consuming but orderly way to move. And anything that didn’t fit went directly to the thrift store (and thank goodness the thrift stores had re-opened!
Our plants seem to love their new home! Our front deck is a riot of colour. And Peek-a-boo, our cat, has settled in nicely. After keeping her indoors for 10 days and dealing with kitty litter, suddenly the overwhelming task of putting in a cat-door seemed ever so easy. Kitty litter and I are not friends!
Having less energy and less to do, made it easier to deepen my prayer and journalling practice and I hope I can keep that up now that I’m back at work. In some ways, it seems the most important work.
The search for a new bishop is underway. Nominations opened up July 28th and will close on August 17th. After a screening process, the candidates will be announced and we will have a relatively short time to review the slate. Your wardens are the Synod delegates for St. Mary’s. I hope to arrange a time when those interested can review the candidates and discuss what qualities/skills we would like to see in our next bishop so our Synod delegates can attend the Electoral Synod on September 26th well informed.
God willing, our intention is to open the church for worship on our Patronal feast of St. Mary on Sunday, August 16th. A committee has been hard at work preparing for this longed-for day. You will learn more about the precautions that have been put in place and what we will be asking of you next week. I look forward to seeing those of you who feel comfortable coming out for the service. For those of you who need to stay home to feel safe, our intention is to record and upload the service on our website for your viewing.
Lastly, I need to bring you up to date about our financial situation. Our weekly giving has dropped. But our expenses have not. Yes, there is a decrease in some costs such as printing bulletins, travel, etc. But on top of Selinde and KAT’s wages and ongoing requirements for Hydro and Shaw and insurance, in the past couple months we have incurred the following costs: buyout of the copier lease, new hard drive for KAT’s computer that crashed, repairs to the church’s heating/cooling system, and a new paved path out of the church doors nearest the parking lot (we are required to use separate entrance and exit when we re-open the church). Much of the work around the parish is done by volunteer parishioner power but some things simply need to be paid for. So please, if you’ve let your giving drop, please consider re-instating your contributions. The church building itself might be closed, but there’s still lots of life and activity in the parish. Selinde and KAT continue to work their full hours, albeit some of them from home. We will also need a new sterilizer once we are allowed to use the kitchen again. The old one sprang a leak and is not repairable. We are not in dire straits but don’t want to get there either!
My hope is that giving in this parish comes from a place of joy, not duty. As a quote I read the other day said, “We do things either because we enjoy doing them or because we are afraid not to do them.” John F. Milburn. If giving gives you joy, we’d love to feel your joy! Thank you.
God bless you all!
Heather U shared this delightful video. Click HERE to enjoy!
And KAT found this on her internet travels!
A while back I read a story of a visiting pastor who attended a men's breakfast in the middle of a rural farming area of the country. The group had asked an older farmer, decked out in bib overalls, to say grace for the morning breakfast. "Lord, I hate buttermilk", the farmer began. The visiting pastor opened one eye to glance at the farmer and wonder where this was going. The farmer loudly proclaimed, "Lord, I hate lard." Now the pastor was growing concerned. Without missing a beat, the farmer continued, "And Lord, you know I don't much care for raw white flour". The pastor once again opened an eye to glance around the room and saw that he wasn't the only one to feel uncomfortable. Then the farmer added, "But Lord, when you mix them all together and bake them, I do love warm fresh biscuits. So Lord, when things come up that we don't like, when life gets hard, when we don't understand what you're saying to us, help us to just relax and wait until you are done mixing. It will probably be even better than biscuits. Amen."
Within that prayer there is great wisdom for all when it comes to complicated situations like we are experiencing in the world today. Stay strong, my friends, because our Lord is mixing several things that we don't really care for, but something even better is going to come when HE is done with it. AMEN