Greetings from Rev. Mike Woods

Greetings St. Liz,

The Woods family is very excited to begin our time with you this coming week. It has been a long hot summer for us as I am sure it has been the same for you.

I am writing this after standing outside with our oldest daughter, Harper, as we watched a nice little summer rainstorm pour down upon us. It was just long enough that it knocked the heat out of the air and left a cool breeze in its wake. It was cool enough that we actually felt like spending more than ten minutes outside after the storm passed. ...Read More

The "G" Was for George

by The Rev. Daniel P Strandlund on January 16, 2020
It was on Tuesday that I got the call that our friend John Weber was declining quickly and that I should come to see him.  Another member of St. Liz and I gathered at John’s bedside and said the prayers appropriate for someone nearing their time of death.  The prayers begin on page 462 of The Book of Common Prayer.  The words are beautiful and powerful.
There’s one prayer in particular that caught me.  It’s on page 464 and begins, “Deliver your servant N., O Sovereign Lord Christ….”   What caught me off guard was the N., the place where John’s name was to go.  Where only one N. is listed in the prayer book, the unspoken rule is that using just a first name is fine.  (Compare the double N.’s for full names on page 424 in the marriage rite.)  But at John’s bedside, in the midst of that prayer of deliverance, for some reason I really wanted to use his full name.
The trouble was that I didn’t know it.  I had a vague memory that his middle initial was “G” but had no idea what it stood for.  Now there’s nothing unusual about not knowing someone’s full name.  Each of us has friends we’ve known for years whose middle names we probably have never learned or have forgotten.   But with John, not knowing his middle name bothered me.
John was a very private man.  He was faithful at worship, cordial, if gruff at times, and participated in a life group.  He was the kind of person many of us loved and knew but few of us knew much about.  During those final prayers at his bedside, the fact that I didn’t know his middle name symbolized for me the privacy with which John lived, the many visits to his home he declined, the predictable brevity of our conversations.  The G was for John’s goodness and gratitude and generosity and great memory of the Prayer Book, but it was also for guardedness, for gentle refusals, for “Goodbye, Father, thank you for the call.”
Maybe you can relate.  Some folks we love have boundaries that are stronger than we would like them to be.  Sometimes those boundaries are stronger than we even think is healthy.  This can be a particular challenge for a congregation like ours, where affection and mutual care is so central to who we are and how we live.  For some, however, distance and solitude and a simple handshake simply are the topography of love.  For these of our brothers and sisters, our learning to navigate and appreciate the beauty of this landscape, however sparse it may seem to us, is essential to how we “respect the dignity of every human being,” as we say in our Baptismal Covenant  (BCP, 305). 
John was mostly asleep as we prayed by his bedside, but he roused a little during the Lord’s Prayer and grabbed my hand.  This was a great gift to me.  What I felt in that moment was that John knew how much his church loved him, that he had received and cherished and delighted in every bit of our friendship, and that he had reciprocated fully, in his own way. 
I’ve since learned that the G was for George.  There are other things I would like to know of John, too, and at the end of time, when we’re all gathered together in the full communion of saints, I’ll get to ask.  Maybe he will tell me stories, or maybe even in eternity he will cherish privately his many mysteries.  Regardless, I am comforted by knowing John is seen and loved fully by our Lord, who walked beside him as an old friend through all the solitary hinterlands of John’s earthly journey, even as He walks beside him now through a more heavenly country.
I am grateful to have known John George Weber.  He was my teacher in holiness, particularly during our Tuesday Morning Prayer service, and a companion along the way.  It is a great honor to have been his priest for a time and to count myself amongst his friends.
God’s Peace,
Fr. Daniel+