Message from the Senior Warden
So many times we are faced with situations that are both beyond our comprehension and our control. The feeling of helplessness often mutates into the feeling of hopelessness. The problem is so overwhelming that we can't even find a toe-hold in which to begin.
After my parents both passed, I was faced with the monumental task of cleaning out their home of 44 years. During that time, they managed to save every piece of paper, every letter and every receipt they had ever received in 63 years of marriage. A slide of every picture from every vacation they had ever taken was carefully stored in 1,792,502 carousel slide trays in the basement along with a 5-foot stack of newspapers from 1967 that had a $0.50-off coupon for coffee and 500 pairs of women's hose (not panty hose) all of which leaves me with interesting topics for another day's message. But I digress.
Suffice to say, it gave a whole new meaning to the words "FULL HOUSE". I was beyond overwhelmed. My best friend arrived on the scene like Patton's 3rd Army Division and literally reached under the bed in the guest room and started dragging stuff out. I was truly astonished at both her bravery and that nothing grabbed her back. She just started in, not waiting for any pre-conditions to be met, but getting to work with what needed to be done, one pile at a time, one room at a time. It got me off high-center and allowed me to begin eating that elephant. Like Mom used to say, "Begin. The rest is easy".
Putting off difficult tasks is something I suspect we're all good at. We like to avoid unpleasant things as long as possible. Talking about race relations and racism is one of those topics in which we rarely, if ever, choose to engage. Yet we have reached a time in our country's history when that is no longer possible. It not only makes us uncomfortable, but we are faced with a similar feeling of being overwhelmed. It is a HUGE issue that is so extremely complicated and nuanced that we prefer to avoid it altogether.
I was reading an article this morning about a young black woman needing to have a difficult conversation with her white mother. They had a wonderful mother-daughter relationship but had never really addressed the issue of racism for a variety of reasons. The younger woman, because of the color of her skin, had faced challenges that her mother never had. They both were afraid talking about it might create a divide in their relationship that neither were willing to risk, and they had chosen to ignore it.
The events of recent months forced the daughter to open the door for a heartfelt conversation. Knowing that she could never fully grasp the challenges the daughter had experienced and would continue to encounter, the mother replied the best way she knew. "What do you need from me right now?" Even though both are social distancing, the mom continued saying, "I know that you're going through something I can't fully understand right now. I know you're working really hard. I know that you're traumatized. You want me to cook dinner? Just send me your favorite recipes and I'll make it and I'll drop it off at the door. Are there any chores you need me to do? How can I support you?"
She didn't let the feeling of helplessness overwhelm her. She just addressed it the best way she knew how: by finding small, supportive gestures that demonstrated her love for her daughter and her willingness to help any way she could, even with mundane tasks that would allow her daughter the freedom to focus on more pressing concerns.
Usually, it takes that "necessary nudge" to get us going in the right direction. I have been encouraged by the recent writings and comments of Bishop Benfield and Fr. Ben. They both approached the topic of racism with love, compassion and sincere desire to do better now that we know better. They reached under the bed of years of neglect and pulled items of truth out into the light of day to begin the process of understanding and reconciliation.
As much as we would like to find a 12-step program to repair and replace hundreds of years of injustice, systemic racism will not be resolved that easily. Does that mean that there is nothing any of us can do? Of course not. As children of God, we are required to "strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being." It begins by taking small steps when and where we find the opportunity to be the hands and feet of God.
There is always, always, always something we can do to be supportive for someone that has an overwhelming burden to bear. We are not asked to solve anything. We are, however, required to face the difficult, talk about the uncomfortable, and comfort the weary.
What does the world need from you right now? Put yourself in the position of the mother in the story above and ask how you can be helpful. Pray for guidance. God will provide the strength and direction. You just need to reach under the bed and begin the task.
Another Change for Sunday Services (good news)
The vestry met (wearing masks and sitting 6 ft. apart in the parish hall) last evening, and we are pleased to announce that Fr. Lowell Grisham has agreed to serve as our supply priest. He is very excited to join us for Sunday Spiritual Eucharist and for a mid-week message on Facebook. He has offered to begin a weekly series of lessons about prayer. Fr. Grisham will be a welcome addition to our St. Theodore's family. His duties will begin this Sunday. We asked and we received. Thanks be to God!
Financial Summary as of May 31, 2020
Year-to-date revenue is at 110% of budget through the end of May. Operating expenses are running at 68% of budget. Operating expenses are significantly less due to the lack of rector expenses. Normal operating expenses, excluding personnel expenses, are running at 72% of budget. This is due primarily to the required closing of the parish throughout the pandemic.
We appreciate everyone's efforts in continuing to support our parish through your contributions and a continued focus on management of all expenses. Anyone wishing to see the parish financial statement may contact the parish office.
Farewell and God Speed
Many of you know that Jerry & Lila Smith have decided to move back to Minnesota to be near their children. They have sold their house, and are moving within the week. Under the "old normal" circumstances, we would do a "leavetaking" blessing during a regular service, but of course, that can't happen now. I spoke with Lila this morning, and she gave me her son's address for mail since they do not have a house in Minnesota yet. That address is 6865 Jeremy Ct., Eden Prairie, MN 55346. We send them off with our love and prayers for health and happiness in this next phase of their lives. I know we will miss them dearly, and hope for visits now and then.
Update on Jane Helmer
I've had many inquiries about Fr. Ben and Jane. He will be coming by tomorrow to pick up his alb as Jane is at Highlands Rehab and he is taking her a walker. He says she is making slow progress, which is to be expected. In the meantime, I thought you all might like to have their address to send cards and good wishes: 16 Osage Lane, Holiday Island, AR 72631.
Plenty of Soup
The bins in the freezer are full! There's vegetarian vegetable, tomato, chicken noodle, a spicy soup with lots of goodies in it, and the famous Jewish mother's cure-for-everything chicken soup. If you show up when the church office is open, you can make your way downstairs and have your pick. We even encourage you to take MORE than you share. It solves that 'tired of coming up with ideas for meals' problem that pandemics foster.