I am slowly getting back into the swing of things…

As I have prepared to return to St Thomas following six weeks’ time, I have thought several times about that first essay assigned so many years as we returned to school: “What I did on my summer vacation.” Well, this was no vacation – not by a long shot. But it was a time filled with new experiences, realizations and gifts on so many levels.

I live on my own, sharing my life with two cats, Phoebe and Grace. Days and weeks in hospital and then in rehab were a challenge of so many people, following the schedules imposed by the institution, and figuring out how to sleep in the midst of varying amounts of noise and personal pain. There were many, many helpers who brought food, ice, medications, and the challenges/opportunities of physical therapy. Encouragement. Friends. Support. Wonderful cards and notes.

There was my first roommate, an older woman, estranged from her family, and facing some scary decisions. We talked about God, about God’s love, and kindness. She remains in my prayers… There was my second roommate who spoke no English, just a rather obscure dialect from Kenya. Her large family came every day to help her, support her, play music for her. While she was in rehab, her husband died back in Kenya.

Her daughter went to Kenya to see to her father’s burial. While she was away, the family came each evening and sang hymns, softly, in their own dialect. They are Presbyterians, and the music of those hymns was so familiar, so sweet to hear. She too, along with her family, remain in my prayers. I will never see either of these women again, yet for a moment in time we were connected on some basic, human and spiritual levels. And we will be connected, somehow, forever.

I learned so much more: about the kindness of strangers; the gift of generosity of experience; the marvel of ice and relaxing, healing sleep. But it is the connections that are informing my Lenten pilgrimage this year.

On Ash Wednesday we receive the ashes on our foreheads and hear the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” These can feel like shaming, demeaning words, reminding us that we are of no consequence at all, and are only wretched creatures trying to earn

salvation. Or we can hear them in a totally different way: You are part of God’s creation, created in the image of God and filled with God’s likeness. You are part of everything that has ever been made, from before time and forever. You are connected, as we all are connected, across time and space, by the powerful love of God. We are never alone, even in our darkest moments.

Thanks be to God.

Peace and blessing, Carol+

This coming Sunday, February 25, will be my first Sunday back. It will also be St Thomas Annual Meeting! We will worship together at 10:00 (no service at 8:00am), then enjoy brunch prepared by the Vestry and the annual meeting. Come one, come all!