December 01, 2009

Practical Outcomes

Our final evening together was the best session of the entire seminar. I was very impressed by all the ideas that were generated. We all made a commitment to work on our projects and to report back to each other at the beginning of the Pascha Book Study, on Wednesday April 7th, 2010. As is usually the case, our Pascha Study will be a follow-up to our Theological Seminar. During our readings and our discussion, it became clear to me that all the different aspects of community that we were considering converged in a very practical way around the topic of conflict—it is at that point that the authenticity of most communities is tested, and it is at that point that most communities disintegrate. So, for our Pascha Study, we will be looking further at the subject of forgiveness. We will start on April 7th by viewing a documentary entitled, Forgiving Dr Mengele, and we will then read a book about the Nickel Mines School shootings called Amish Grace.

In the meantime, here are the assignments we are undertaking. Please continue to pray for our parish and for this on-going project. Thanks to each of you for your participation in this work, and I look forward to seeing each of you during Bright Week and hearing about the progress you’ve made on your projects.

Father Aidan has committed to helping co-ordinate a Community Meal once a month, to inviting Beck Funeral Home to be available to help folks with funeral planning after two of this year’s Souls’ Saturday Liturgies, and to incorporating the Service of Foot Washing into the schedule for Holy Week.

Baker Galloway has committed to helping our parish work towards a goal of having only Orthros and Divine Liturgy and Fellowship on Sundays rather than the usual round of meetings, rehearsals, and other events.

Rebekah Galloway has committed to helping keep Christ the Lightgiver going—and, eventually, flourishing—and to encouraging others in the parish to develop relationships with monastics.

Linda Taylor has committed to discovering ways to maintain the intimacy of our parish even as we seek to reach out to others on an on-going basis.

Dorothy Stewart has committed to praying for the departed and requesting masses for them as well, and she wants the parish to know that she would like to provide accommodations for people who travel long distances during Holy Week (she has two rooms and private bath with one queen-size and two single beds. Ordinarily she would put a chocolate on each pillow - but not during Holy Week). She also offered her story about Oscar Dew*

Steve Bodnarchuk has committed to start a listing service on the internet (Steve’s List) that will help our parishioners and other Orthodox in Central Texas to help each other with resources and information.

David Morgan has made a commitment to personally greet each visitor after each Divine Liturgy.

Karen Morgan has committed to investing herself in her relationship with her godmother and with other parishioners and encouraging others to do the same by concretely charting the ‘alternative relationships’ that we all have at St John’s and by giving people opportunities to honor those relationships on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Brandon Wilson has committed to locating the graves of all the departed members of our community and to organizing quarterly pilgrimages to those graves for prayer and a meal.

Rigel Thurston has committed to moving closer to the parish in a timely fashion and to helping others do the same through special incentives that he can offer as a realtor.

Joe Wright has committed to do more guerilla art and to explore ways to encourage the arts in our parish and to continue his work with social events in our community.

Father Deacon Basil and Shamassy Josie Long have committed to have gatherings for new people and catechumens at their home twice each year.

Catherine Maclaughlin has committed to continue her work with our parish’s Dedicated Community and her work with the on-going Sunday Morning Book Study and to continue sponsoring speakers once a year.

Becky Thurner has committed to encouraging people to attend the Divine Liturgy on Souls’ Saturdays by putting together a schedule for remembering the departed, to help print up an explanation of the funeral service that can be shared with visitors, and to exploring ways we can help each other with truly weighty issues.

*Perhaps it is because everyone in a small town knows everyone else so intimately, but it does seem that there are more eccentrics per square yard as the population gets smaller in number. My home- town, Canastota, NY, is no exception. One of the most colorful eccentrics, a legend in Canastota, was Oscar Dew. There are many stories about him. One Thursday evening, he showed up at the Robotham home just at dinner- time. Since he made no move to leave, he was invited to stay for dinner. Thereafter, he showed up every Thursday night at the same time, and the family began automatically to lay another place for him. This went on for at least two years. One Thursday night, Oscar, decidedly unhappy over the entrée being served, threw down his fork and stated that he was never coming there again. Not only did he never again come for dinner, he never again even entered the Robotham home. I think it was ham and cabbage which so disgusted him. The most famous story about Oscar is the one I have chosen to tell you today. Oscar was an inveterate funeral-goer. Not only did he attend every funeral service in Canastota and environs but he also managed to get to the graveside service as well. Since he did not drive, it was a given that someone would make room for Oscar in his car. One graveside service was quite a distance from Canastota. Oscar had managed to get a ride to the cemetery but, for some reason, was without a ride home. He approached the undertaker and hearse driver to ask if he could ride back home with them. The only space available was in the back of the hearse, but that was fine with Oscar. He got in and saw that there was a great place to lie down. He did so and promptly went to sleep, rocked gently by the motion of the hearse.

In the meantime, the undertaker and driver noted that the hearse was low on gas and stopped at a gas station. The attendant, joking, asked if they were carrying anyone. They said that yes, they did have a passenger. Chastened, the attendant moved toward the back of the hearse, removed the gas tank cap, and was just inserting the hose when he glanced up. At that very moment, Oscar, straggly-haired, rheumy-eyed, still groggy from sleep and looking frankly cadaverous, pulled back the curtain at the side window of the hearse, to gaze straight into the eyes of the startled attendant who dropped the hose and began to run, ignoring the reassuring shouts of the undertaker and driver. He soon disappeared over the crest of the nearest hill.

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