From Father Tom …

Alexis and I are still in Maryland caring for and helping her dad and his partner (Nancy Titus). While we have been here for a month now it seems much longer, and we have decided to return home to Minnesota next week to get our lives back. It’s easy to get lost here in the role of caregiver and caretaker. Still we worry that we will be halfway home, oh say in Indiana, and the phone will ring beckoning us to return because we are needed. 

It’s good to be needed! Alexis and I are fortunate enough to be able to drop everything and come out to Maryland but now it is time to come home. Home where you all are. But in our grandiose thoughts and dreams the home we want to return to does not involve Covid 19 and social distancing. I think somewhere in our subconscious we think we are going to come home, and everything will be back to normal. Everyone will be back at church; we will be able to pass the peace and Eucharist, well let’s just say that while spiritual communion has its place but I know many of us miss the symbolism of the body and blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

That feeling of renewal and reconciliation that I personally receive when I take communion has been missing for far too long. Someone that I pray with regularly broke down and told me that they feel they are suffering by not having communion available and they didn’t know how much longer they could go on without it. While that seems a little bit extreme, I can empathize with how they are feeling.

But when we get back to Minnesota everything will still be the same.  Covid will still be raging across our world, we will need to remind everyone about the plight of people of color and the homeless and we still won’t be able to take traditional communion. 

Psalm 13 comes to mind where David cries out to God, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?”  We have a saying that this too shall pass. I like to add that I pray it will pass soon.

I discovered in my training to be a priest that I like to fix things. It became clear in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) just how much I try (futilely) to fix just about everything. It has been a bang my head against the wall experience for me and at times I just don’t get it. Oh, I still try at times to fix things even though there are no fixing some things. Some things only God can fix. 

I remember during my CPE going on a visit on the oncology ward for a 35-year-old man who had just been diagnosed with his 2nd round of leukemia. He was married and had 4 children all under the age of 10 and I walked into his room with no clue that he had just been given his diagnosis and he and his wife were debating whether or not to tell the kids. Probably the hardest part for me was that he had long hair and a beard and looked a lot like many of our modern-day pictures of Jesus. I felt like someone punched me in the stomach and I just wanted to run out of his room. Of course, I didn’t.  I stayed and cried with he and his wife and helped them envision how, if they decided to tell the kids, they should consider doing it. I heard recently from one of my fellow chaplains that he beat cancer again and is in remission. Thanks Be to God.

One of my favorite contemporary Christian music artists is Chris Rice and his song Magic Wand comes to mind. His lyrics talk about having said wand to wave it over “me and over you and over all this crazy world and make it right. Oh there’s so much that I would change if I could take the easy way out.  Here is a YouTube link if you would like to listen. But Christ reminds us that the way to real change is through obeying God and the spirit.

I pray that Alexis and I can come home soon but I also know that equation has many parts that we may not have considered yet. 

Until next week, Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself. Oh, and I’m always just a phone call or a zoom session away. If I can offer help don’t hesitate to call.

Father Tom

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