On the occasion of his 100th birthday Fr. Ed talked about being on the Pilgrim’s Road with the people of St. Andrew’s. Since then, and perhaps because I also had a birthday in March, I have been reflecting a lot about these 43 years that I have traveled with so many of you here at St. Andrews. What might have been different if I had or had not made one choice or another? I realized one single event had a significant impact on my life. It challenged and changed my perspective of what Micah 6:8 means when it says “and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? “
In 1979 I was working at the University of Puget Sound School of Law which was in downtown Tacoma. My office overlooked the streets of Tacoma. Day after day I left my home, drove to the law school, parked in the two-story parking garage and walked the skybridge over Market Street to my office. I never really thought about what was going on outside my window overlooking Broadway. One year Sam and I decided to participate in month-long series of classes offered by UPS and PLU called Communiversity. I chose “Sunday Afternoons in Tacoma”, led by a local homeless advocate. I have no idea why I chose that course. Two by two we went exploring the downtown streets with a straightforward set of tasks that involved talking to people, finding services (restrooms), finding a spot to linger or even sleep, etc. Needless to say, my eyes were open to the enormous needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. It was a profound experience and one that changed me.
After 10 years of working at the law school I yearned to find work that filled my soul and helped others. An opportunity presented itself to work with a program helping low- income single mothers move towards self-sufficiency (WWEE). This was 1989 and for the rest of my career I worked with programs focused of helping others. In addition to my job, St. Andrew’s provided many opportunities to help. I remember scrubbing floors for Anna and Peter, a Lithuanian couple who received help through Volunteer Chore Ministry. I remember cooking for the families of Ruby Slippers, our ministry to homeless families. And I remember Fr. Ed faithfully making Rice Krispy Squares for the children’s Christmas party at WWEE. I was drawn to our mission of outreach to the community and the decision to tithe 10% of the church’s income towards outreach. (I also remember the Annual Meeting “battle” of fixing the roof of the church vs the 10% tithe. We did both!)
So many stories come to mind. All of them are a part of the pilgrimage that we have taken and continue to take together.
On more than one occasion, Fr. Martin has used the quote: “Traveler, there is no path, The path is made by walking.” Antonio Machado’s poem continues:
By walking the path is made And when you look back You’ll see a road
Never to be trodden again.
I think of this often and look forward to continuing our travels ahead. There is much to be done. In the Great Thanksgiving, a part of the liturgy of Holy Communion, we pray “open my eyes to see your hand at work at the world around us.” I pray that our eyes will remain open and that we continue to be His hands. We don’t have to look far to see the needs that surround us.