Thoughts on reopening from Steve McCay

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As with many others, I experience Covid-19 fatigue in varying degrees and my ability to cope is really tested at times.  This crisis has shown itself to be particularly challenging, most likely because I was unable to avoid infection and sickness.  Historically my default coping method has been to keep busy and remain hopeful, and unlike others who have been unable to leave quarantine, I have been able to keep a semblance of routine at St. Paul’s.  I’m grateful that the need to tend to this church and property is always present and has provided me purpose and structure despite “the shutdown.”

As it always has, taking some solitary time in the sanctuary allows me to reflect and gain perspective.  Recently in preparing the nave for public prayer and meditation I applied tung oil to many of the older pews dried out from years of heat and use.   I felt a sense of nurturing applying the oil to the wood, watching it eagerly draw it in and seeing the wood grain and color come to life once again.

I couldn’t help but think about all the people that have come and gone, that have sat on those benches, celebrating the sacraments, observing the joy of Christmas and Easter and conversely mourning the deaths of family members, friends, priests, parishioners and tragic world events. Perhaps what makes this crisis more difficult than others is that we can’t come together for these things.  The other day I recalled the images created when one of our deacons remarked seventeen years ago when I first came to St. Paul’s that “the walls of St. Paul’s are bathed in prayer”.   I’ve also thought of the many configurations the sanctuary has gone through over the years and how nurtured I am when I use it as a place to give thanks or as shelter no matter the storm. I pray that all of us will again feel the full extent of that nurturing very soon.

When I look at the church, constructed from stone and slate so it will live indefinitely, I take strength in the fact that despite all the hardships endured by prior generations, and those that will be endured by those who come after us, the one constant is St. Paul’s.  It grows and adjusts so we can too.  It nurtures us and brings out the best in us just as the cleansing oil brought needed rejuvenation to the tired pews.  It won’t be long now.  We’ll soon gather again and feel these things together.  Peace, stay safe, and thank God for St. Paul’s!

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