Monday, 22 December 2008

Blessings with the Snow

I have always said I would never live where I had to own a snow shovel. Today, I finally wished I had one, and yet I still don't own one because there is not one available within 100 miles. I hope I can stick to my plan. To top it off, since moving to the great Pacific Northwest, in every season we have lived through, and this is our second winter, I have heard this line from just about everyone, "This is not normal for Seattle" I am beginning to wonder if there is a "normal" for Seattle. Right now I think 45 and rain sounds great! I have also said often that snow is highly overrated. I guess I do like heat, you don't have to shovel that!

Still, there are some great things about this. I have to wonder if this is God's way of making us slow down, even though some people don't, can't, or won't. I have also witnessed some people being not so kind, but far more being very kind and helpful as we all struggle together. Sunday, I could not get to where I was supposed to be, St. Columba's, Kent and then St. Mary's, Lakewood and that is just difficult for me. I hate not to be there. I get fidgety and kind of aimless when the plan is subverted. Getting past that, I decided I would take the opportunity to attend services at St. John the Baptist. This is the very good thing about living right next door to an Episcopal Church in this diocese. My wife was having a bit of back trouble after an ice spill the night before, so my son and I went together. This alone was such a gift, and to go without anything to really do, but be with him, even better. I was treated to a truly fine meditation by Rector Peter DeVeau, who had not intended to preach. He had a guest preacher who could not make it, yes, because of the snow. As is so often the case, these rather impromptu offerings are often some of the best. This one was. We even had an old fashioned hymn "call out" for Christmas carols. But perhaps the most meaningful part of this day was my son, sitting beside me and instructing me as we moved through the service. He was being very helpful, telling me "how it happens here", and guiding me through the service, leading me around. He wants to be a deacon, and he is serious about this. He would make a good one. But I found myself sitting next to him so thankful, for him, thankful that the moment had been created, thankful for the snow.

Monday, 15 December 2008

The Rev. Dr. Peggy Bosmyer Campbell

She was a force to be reckoned with. And one of the most caring forces you would ever know. She was a friend, colleague, mentor, and perhaps her most important role in our lives, the mother of our two godchildren. Peggy was the first woman ordained an Episcopal priest south of the Mason Dixon line in 1978. The number of lives she touched, transformed, mentored, and nurtured is countless, and some even unknown. She and her husband, Dennis, another touchstone in our lives, and the priest that led me through the process toward ordination, helped a few others officially "introduce" me to the Diocese of Olympia at my consecration in September 2007. It was the greatest honor to have them there. Had Peggy and Dennis been given the opportunity, they would have surely been able to tell some stories! Shortly after that Peggy received her diagnosis. Not long after that, my wife and I talked to both of them, and we asked Peggy what she needed from us. She did not miss a beat and said, "Just love my babies."

Peggy died at the age of 60, this past Saturday, December 13th. Ironically, that same day, just hours after she died, our son, Austin was confirmed in the Episcopal Church. A few weeks ago as we checked in with Dennis we had told him about Austin' s big day on the 13th of December and he had assured us that we would be in their prayers. We remarked upon hearing the news, that Peggy had once again taken our request straight to the source, this time the source of all things. My son has vowed, along with the other vows he took on Saturday, to learn as much as he can about Peggy and to always remember her when he remembers this day. While I wish, as much as I could wish anything, that it were not so, since it is, I am thankful my son will have this day, and this great saint of the Episcopal Church, and of our faith, to carry with him on this journey. Her family reports that she was watching "It's a Wonderful Life" at the time of her death. She reminded so many through her life and ministry of that very truth, that it is a wonderful life. She certainly reminded the Rickels of that and for the moment, it is just very difficult to imagine this life without her in it. Your prayers for Dennis, the children, and all who grieve her loss would be a gift to me.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008


There is a friend I have. I have known him since he was about the age my son is now. I even mentored him and tutored him in subjects he had problems with in school. I moved when he was a young teenager and then, through the wonder of our journey, I was back in his life and by then he was out of high school and living the rough and tumble life as a young adult. Today he is in prison. He and I have kept up through letters. I must admit I have learned more from him in these letters than I would ever surmise he has learned from me. He can put so eloquently the feeling of being left out of God's world, and at the same time feeling the closeness of God in what he goes through on a daily basis. He states in his latest letter, "It's hard trying to do what God intends us to do." He goes on to suggest that saying one is only human seems like a very shallow excuse. Indeed on many days I feel that same way. In this Advent season as we await again the coming of Christ into our lives, I am thankful for the human nature our God was willing to take on. Somehow it is comforting to know the Holy One knows those feelings.

There was at the end of this letter from my friend, a bit of an apology. I think he was referencing the letter but it reads, "Hope to hear from you soon and I am sorry it is so messy." Me too, I thought. It is often messy. I wrote him today to say his letter was not messy at all, that I got it, all of it, clear as a bell and the beauty and clearness in it will help me know Christmas in a way he would never imagine, and finally, thank you, once again, my friend.