I was “back in the pew” at St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key (Sarasota, FL) today. It felt good!
For much of the summer I sang in the choir, and on the four most recent Sundays I have been “upfront” where I have served in my ministerial capacity. (Sep 26th I preached at St. David’s, Englewood, FL; Oct 3rd I assisted at Christ the Liberator in Quito, Ecuador; Oct 10th I presided at the 10:00 a.m. St. Boniface’s Eucharist; Oct 17th I preached and presided at St. Margaret’s, Sarasota.)
I was so happy to be nothing more or less than a parishioner this morning.
I sat with my friends Adrian and Anno Swain (their real names). Adrian has had a storied and charmed career. He has served with the FBI, the CIA, the Army Air Corps (later the United States Air Force); and the Bureau of Drugs and Narcotics. Anno once owned a ranch in Oregon. I love to share a pew with them, and with their son Ken.
I looked around from that pew at some of the folks I’ve come to know at St. B’s. Each has a different story. In what follows I have given them pseudonyms.
“Tony and Sarah” are in their late sixties. Tony is already showing signs of senility. Together they are raising two fabulous grandchildren aged about 10 and 12. Tony and Sarah are amongst the hordes of retired grandparents whose lot is not to “eat, drink, and be merry” - but rather to care for their grand-kids on a full time basis.
“Roger” usually sits in front of me. He has a ready smile. He loves to hear me sing. But I will not see him for a while. This is because he has been incarcerated in a prison in Miami. His term (for “white collar crime”) is 30 months. I never would have guessed.
I often exchange warm greetings with “Howard and Isabel”. They and I exchange ready smiles and warm hugs. “Isabel” wrote a letter to our local newspaper a couple of month ago. The letter was a mean and snarky attack on the President.
I was shocked. I could not believe that “Isabel” would pen such nonsense. But I hugged her today!
Grant (his real name) is a wee boy aged about 4 or 5.
I first noticed him a couple of years ago when he approached the Altar with his parents. His face was filled with joy and glee as he got ready to receive communion. I shared my joy at his joy with his Mom and Dad.
I whispered out his name as he was striding back from the Altar today. He heard my whisper. I shook his hand. That was too formal for Grant. So he walked over to my pew and gave me a delicious hug!
Adrian and Anno.
“Tony and Sarah”.
“Howard and Isabel”.
For of such is the Kingdom of Heaven at St. Boniface Church.