The real impetus to my spiritual journey began in 2005 when I moved to Las Cruces, NM, and joined St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Don’t get me wrong; although not a ‘cradle Episcopalian’, I had been a regular church-goer throughout my life, but God really took me in hand when I moved to Las Cruces!
On my birthday that September in 2005, which happened to fall on a Sunday, I decided to start the process of finding a church by getting a birthday blessing. There are two Episcopal churches in Las Cruces, and I set out for the 8am service at St. James. The church itself is somewhat hidden by trees, although the parish hall is quite visible. I didn’t see the church, so I drove around the block and tried again. After the third failed try, I knew I’d missed the start of the service, so I headed for St. Andrew’s, where the early service began at 8:30am. St Andrew’s I found – on the first try, even! When I discovered that there was a hand bell choir, that clinched it: this was my church!
At the time, St. Andrew’s had a LOGOS program for school-aged children and youth. (In case you have never heard of LOGOS, as I had not, it is a weekday Christian education program distinct from Sunday School.) For a long time, I taught Bible skills to the elementary school children who attended LOGOS. Eventually I added director of the program to that teaching role. I also was recruited into various roles for Vacation Bible School and the Jerusalem Marketplace, which alternated annually with the Seder Meal at Easter time. Quite definitely, teaching was an aspect of my spiritual growth; it takes planning and study to do the job well!
Learning also was an aspect of my spiritual growth. I attended Bible studies and Faith Alive (a spiritual renewal program), joined the Daughters of the King (a lay order with the mission of prayer, service, and evangelism) and the Community of Hope (a program like Stephen’s Ministry); became an acolyte, a Eucharistic Minister, and a lector, with all that those activities involved. I learned about church and diocesan administration through service on vestry, including two years as Senior Warden.
And there was the volunteering! Through service as a Eucharistic Visitor, I met the most wonderful, and often cantankerous, elders. (I smile as I write this, thinking of my friend Winnifred, who had Parkinson’s Disease, telling me that moving herself in a wheelchair to and from the dining room of her facility was “uphill both ways”!) I also volunteered in the church office and in the pre/post-surgical areas at one of the local hospitals, both of which were fantastic and rewarding learning experiences.
Then there was my time at St. Dunstan’s in 2011, during my son-in-law’s struggle with and death from melanoma. I found compassion, understanding, and caring at St. Dunstan’s. The entire last chapter of Adam’s life was a stage in my spiritual journey, as I helped Adam’s and my families cope with the growing realization that he would not recover. I couldn’t have done it without St. Dunstan’s, though.
The bottom lines? I feel God’s presence in all that I do. I know that I am slowly internalizing the Fruits of the Spirit to which the Apostle Paul refers in the Epistle to the Galatians. I give thanks to the Father for the gift of living water (words and love) from heaven to be given away. I give thanks to the Son for living in my heart to help me walk the Disciple’s Way. I give thanks to the Holy Spirit for empowering me, guiding me, calling to me, and filling me. All told, I work to live my life to the glory of God’s Name.
Stay tuned. The journey’s not over. I just moved to WA from NM and transferred membership to St. Dunstan’s this summer. Walk with me as we see what happens, brothers and sisters. I’m glad to be part of this community again!