Friday, April 23, 2021

Happy birthday, my beloved


 So it's your birthday again, sweetheart. You've been gone for four years, and yet the loss is as fresh as yesterday. 

You would be 84 here in this world. I suspect where you are now you are a gloriously handsome young thing -- as you always are in my heart. And I know somewhere you are having a party, you and Sam Hulsey and Richard Chowning and so many others we've lost. Heck, all heaven is there, because you would have invited everyone.

It's been a rough few months, my love. In addition to the always present sense of your absence, our diocese lost in the litigation about property (filed in 2009 after Bishop Jack Iker and other diocesan leaders left The Episcopal Church but claimed our property).

Well, the Texas Supreme Court gave it to them.

So now we have moved out and turned over to them the keys to St. Luke's in the Meadow, St. Christopher, All Saints, St. Elisabeth/Christ the King, and St. Stephen's, Wichita Falls. 

It was terribly painful to leave St. Luke's for the last time, as so much of YOU is wrapped up in my love for that place. So I tried to wrap them up in my heart and walk out with them all, because that's one piece of personal property they can't grab -- although if they could think of a way, they would surely try.

Their obsessive hatred of The Episcopal Church and all we stand for is astonishing and terribly sad to see, and hard to experience. But I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. You were the target of it for a long long time, so much so that I am convinced the stress caused your heart attacks.

But we will shake the dust of them off our feet and move on,  creating new spaces in which to share the all-inclusive love of the God in whose arms you are surely held. 

You would have been all OVER the hunt for new worship spaces, because you loved few things more than playing with space, creating rooms in which beauty and love and welcome can flourish. You did it at Christ the King, and at St. Luke's and in all your homes over the years, including ours.

I suspect that's one reason you so loved Karen Calafat, because she shares that gift, and creates much the same kind of holy spaces you did, whether in a church, in a home, or across a dinner table.

Tonight I will eat alone, celebrating you, missing you, loving you. And I know when tomorrow comes and the work of once again rebuilding resumes, you will be at my back, just as you always have been.

I miss you, my love.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Empty

 I am finally in synch with Holy Week.

I have been at least a week ahead of everyone else, because we are not worshipping in person due to the Covid 19 pandemic. So we recorded the online worship services for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter in advance to give us time to edit them, lay down the music and singers, create worship bulletins and get it all uploaded and scheduled to premier at exactly the right time -- God willing and Facebook andYouTube working correctly.

This meant I left after recording the Easter service to come home to finish editing Good Friday and make sure Maundy Thursday had finally uploaded. This really messes with your head.

But now it's all done, the last service uploaded late last night, the last bulletins ready for folks to download, the finally checks made.

How appropriate that it happens to be Holy Saturday -- that sacred time suspended between the bleak grief of Good Friday and the alleluias of Easter Sunday. Quiet reigns. Even the birds seem subdued.

I feel as if I have been living in a state of suspension for weeks now, caught in the time of the Hosannas [Save us!] of Palm Sunday and unable to reach the Alleluias [Praise the Lord!] of Easter. 


Here in our diocese formerly known as the Episcopal Diocese of Fort  Worth, we are dealing with the loss of six beloved church buildings and our name, all awarded by the Texas Supreme Court to people who left The Episcopal Church in 2008 but claimed Episcopal Church property. We have to be out of these buildings by April 19, which means this is our last Palm Sunday, the last Maundy Thursday, the last Good Friday, the last Easter Vigil, the last Easter in these buildings.

Three of these buildings hold a special place in my heart because two are parishes Gayland served and loved (one of which is where I worship regularly) and a third is the church where he and I were married. 

And yes, I know the Church is not the building, the Church is the people, but that's a lot easier to say when it's not your church building that is being handed over to people who refuse to ordain women or openly LGBTQ people as bishops and priests and who call our leadership "unbiblical."

So it's no wonder I wept through the editing of the Good Friday service, no wonder that the stripping of the altar for Maundy Thursday was like tearing strips off my heart, no wonder that Easter seems unattainable.



There have been many times in the last 25 years when I questioned whether all the heartbreaking backbreaking work of staying in The Episcopal Church in the face of often daunting odds was worth it. But I've always managed to hang on by my fingernails until either I got stronger or others stepped in to help. And I always had Gayland by my side.

But he's not here now. The exhaustion of the years of work seems overwhelming. 

I am so tired. And so sad.

Hosanna indeed.