It's almost here.....this Sunday is our last Sunday in exile! While we can never properly express our gratitude to Coast Episcopal School and Camp Coast Care for hosting us all this time (and for Grace Lutheran of Long Beach where we wandered for a few months, and 1st Methodist of Long Beach where we held several "big" services), we are really, really ready to move HOME. Last Sunday, as I stood in the procession, having just prayed with the altar party, and the prelude had ended, a young man who was staying at CCC wandered over, fixed himself a bowl of cereal, opened the fridge RIGHT NEXT TO THE CHOIR, poured some milk (as the opening hymn was announced and we began singing), and proceeded to begin eating his breakfast. Folks, this is not an uncommon occurrence. The staff at CCC has been so very gracious to us and constantly remind the volunteers to respect our space and time during worship, but the truth is some folks just don't really get that - they have no frame of reference for sacred and holy space and time. So cereal gets poured, bagels get toasted (all the food serving for the volunteers is in the same room we worship in, which is really their dining hall), and people wander in and out and around during our church service. I love them all, I really do, and we will miss them at our services, even those who are just passing by to eat a little breakfast. They are here for an amazing purpose - to help rebuild our community, and I really am ok with them doing whatever they need to do while we are borrowing what is really their space on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. But I confess - I am ready for a little more control of the environment - sound, lights, noise, movement.
We are ready - did I mention that?
We start physically moving our stuff on Memorial Day, so we are busy packing now. Holler if you can help! Pentecost is the big day! Pray for us....
My first born graduated from college on Saturday. Those parents out there who have been through such milestones can relate to all the feelings this brings up - pride, fear, joy - many emotions surface. She has been through much in her 24 years, and she has some amazing gifts to offer the world. Chelsea has been involved with kids her whole life, and worked as a nanny while at Delta State. She loves children and they love her. She also served as a youth minister while in college. She will serve her 2nd term as a member of permanent staff at our diocesan camp, Camp Bratton-Green, working the ropes course. She found her calling to work with people with special needs by serving on numerous "Special Session" camps - hence her Special Education emphasis along with her Elementary Ed degree. This Saturday was to be a grand celebration - well deserved, well earned. She has arrived there not without some bumps along the road, all of which contributed to making her the wonderful young lady she is. But the celebration was subdued, at best. This past Wednesday she learned her boyfriend of a couple of months had died very unexpectedly. He lived a few hours away from her. I am not at liberty to discuss what happened, much of which is still a matter of speculation and even investigation. All who knew this young man are in shock, my daughter is dazed and hurt and completely devastated. We were to meet Brad over the graduation weekend festivities. Instead, his mother will bury her only child this coming Wednesday. So as I beamed with pride as Chelsea walked the stage on Saturday, knowing what her own struggles have been, relishing how she has persevered and become someone with amazing talents and God-given gifts to offer the world, understanding how hard she has worked to get to this point, teared up over all that - an overwhelming sadness and some anger also joined in for my Daddy-is-so-proud moment. I hurt so much for her, and feel so frustrated that on this occasion, there was not a thing I could do to take away her pain or to allow her to truly celebrate. All we can do is pray and hold her. So that is just what we did. Time heals and gives perspective. Because of what she has been through in life, she is tougher than she should be, at 24. She will make it. But the road she travels, for now, is not what she or anyone could have expected. Life is hard, and often so unfair. May God be her crag and stronghold, and bring her peace. And.....way to go, Chelsea, my first born child. I am so very proud of you.