Thursday, June 7, 2007

the saints

One of the simple joys of this summer has been the experience of living with members of the congregation and spending time with their friends and family. It typifies why I wanted to do field ed: while I have always felt drawn to the more visible aspects of ordained ministry (teaching, leading worship, administering the sacraments), I haven't know what to think about the more subtle moments which fill the rest of the week, all of which involve people. You see, I am not what you would call a people person. Large groups of people tire me. (And that, he says with a kind of understatement, is the definition of introversion.)

Perhaps I am not very talented at self-description; that, or: introverted and extroverted are not especially intelligible terms in the life of the Church. The point is, these folks are wonderful. It's not like every moment is the most exciting thing in the world, but every moment is a gift. I've written in the last few posts about children's activities, but today I had lunch with my host and his friend, an 88-year-old named Harry. I feel, half an hour later, almost buzzed, because I was in the presence of a saint. This gentle man didn't say anything terribly profound: for a couple of hours we talked mostly about gardening, but also a little bit about food and Billy Graham (he was on his way to the new museum). Bob later told me a couple of stories of how Harry had influenced people.

My impulse, as we left, was to kiss his feet and ask for a blessing, because I thought somehow that he was a sort of icon, a sacramental presence of the Kingdom in the world. I didn't, though in a way I did get a blessing as he said he would "talk with God about me."

Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

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