Monday, June 25, 2007

North Carolina Trip

Carolina! Carolina! Heaven's blessings attend her!

I have a great capacity to find things to fret about. The first week of June was my time to fret about the car: “Did the old jalopy have one more trip in it? Would it make it to North Carolina for the weekend of 9-10 June for the baptisms of Timothy and Peter, the sons of my Pennsylvania friends, Kurt and Katie Grossman? Would it make it in time for me to assist as Bishop’s Deacon in the ordination of my friend Colin Munroe to the priesthood, and the baptism of their daughter Catherine?"

As often, my fretting was misapplied. Steve Anderson here at God’s Katrina Kitchen replaced the plugs and checked the fluids for me, and the car achieved more than 27 mpg, a new record well appreciated at the going rate of $3 per gallon.

I should've reserved my fretting for the timing of the trip. About half-way there Alan Morris, my bishop, called to see if I would make it to the 2:00 pm rehearsal for the baptism. I swallowed and said “Sure, I’ll roll in there just about on time!” Then I recalculated the miles and kicked my freeway speed up several notches.

Later, Alan called me again: “How are you doing?”

“Fine,” I said, “I’m 40 miles out and I’ll be there on time.”
But,” Alan replied, “It’s 2:15 right now.

Oops. I had neglected to factor in the switch from Central time to Eastern. After a harrowing downhill trip through the Great Smoky Mountains, I pulled in to the church in Black Mountain, NC. To Alan I seemed a bit dazed, so Colin stood in for me as Bishop’s Deacon for the baptism service, pictured above.
By dinnertime I was feeling a bit more myself. Around the table here is pictured Timothy, Katie, and Peter Grossman, Colin Munroe, Alan and April Morris, Kurt Grossman, and myself. We had all met in Ambridge, where Kurt is working towards his degree from Trinity Episcopal Seminary. Colin has since moved to a little town called Black Mountain, near Asheville, NC. Some of you may know this as the location of the Wineskins conference. Nearby Montreat is the location of Billy Graham’s retirement home.

The conference center in Montreat has a lovely camp­ground perched beside a rushing brook, where I stayed both Saturday and Sunday nights. My campsite was right on the camp road, but on the other side it was situated just above the rushing stream. With my car blocking off the road I had just enough room to pitch my backpacker’s tent, and slept quite peacefully to the babble of the brook.

The Grossmans were camping right next door to me, but their campsite was secluded in the trees at the end of a short entry trail. Peter and Timothy were delighted to explore up and down the creek, discovering the orange juice I had stashed in the water to cool. We had time to bring each other up to date, to fellowship, and to sit by the fire and relax.

Colin’s ordination service on Sunday went much more smoothly, with everyone (namely me) arriving on time. I had a chance for the first time to wear my deacon’s stole from Guatemala, prepared lovingly by Colores del Pueblo ( Here’s a photo just before the ceremony of (from right to left) the Reverend Deacon Colin Munroe, soon to become a priest; the Right Reverend Alan Morris, bishop of the Diocese of Saint Aidan Lindisfarne, and the Reverend Deacon Captain Rolin Bruno, missionary deacon.

My job as bishop’s deacon is to hold Alan’s crossier (shepherd’s staff) and hand him anything he might need to conduct his business—sort of like Radar O’Riley’s task for Colonel Henry Blake of M*A*S*H. Here I am wondering what to do while the psalm is being recited in unison by everyone except Alan, who could not recite with us because I had not handed him his prayer book situated just at my right hand.

Here’s Alan giving Colin his charge to serve as a Priest in the One, Holy, Universal Church. Both our services were conducted here at the Church of the Incarnation in Black Mountain, North Carolina; a parish of the Charismatic Episcopal Church.
Before his ordination, Colin prostrates himself before the altar and cross of Christ, symbolizing his complete abandon- ment of service to anyone else but Christ. This is a very solemn moment.

And of course we need the “after” picture. Here we present the Reverend Colin Munrow, Priest and Presbyter in the Diocese of Saint Aidan Lindisfarne, of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches. On the left is the Reverend Shirley Wood, also of the CEEC, who assisted with the ordination service.
Bonus Photo:
Here is the only photo I have so far of my own ordination as deacon last January 6.

I found it on the ministry news page of the website for our diocese.

Much is happening back here in Mississippi in the NoAH program and at God's Katrina Kitchen. I'll do my best to bring you a new post within the next week.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Of Huckleberries and Retreats

A locally known "super-virus" sometimes called the "Katrina Krud" has been making the rounds of the staff at God's Katrina Kitchen, and it grabbed hold of me with a vengeance the first two weeks of May. When my fever broke I took it as a chance to head for the woods, ending up back at POW camp with a shank steak to toss on the fire.
Toss it I did, but I had little energy for much else, and spent much of the time napping by the side of the seven-acre lake, watching the box turtles pop their heads up and listening to the frogs and birds.
Poking around a bit, I found (Alas!) that the lucious blackberries were no more to be found. However, the Huckleberry bushes were replete with small black semi-tart berries, quite a bit more flavorful than blueberries.

After grazing in the bushes for a time, I started collecting huckleberries, and brought back at least a half pint of these tender morsels, sharing them with James Giles as we sat in his porch swing back at the Kitchen.

June second and third was time for another retreat into the woods.
I was joined by the new member of our NoAH program, Ed. He and I hiked to "The Duck Pond" (on which no one remembers seeing a duck), a two-acre lake beside the Tuxachanie Trail. We sat pondside and listened to the most marvelous symphony of sounds: frogs, insects, birds, and who knows what else. A good tape recorder could an make ambient sound backdrop for a jungle movie there. Next time I'll try to bring back pictures of this lily-pad covered watersite.
The idyllic pictures posted here belie the thunderstorm that was to burst upon us later. We had just got a really good bed of coals going, the sweet potatoes wrapped in foil were buried in the hot coals, and the two inch thick chuck steak was on the grill when it hit us.
My coffee cup on the table indicated that the forty-minute downpour dropped about a third of an inch of rain on us. The bed of burning coals survived the downpour, but the steak turned out quite a bit more rare inside than I had hoped. Nevertheless, when the storm ended we feasted on salad, steak, sweet potatoes, and broiled corn-on-the-cob.
Ed is no longer with us: he seemed to be doing so well, then he got homesick for Kentucky and hooked up with a streetperson who said he was going there. We don't know if Ed will make it out of town, but we do know that the demons that were besetting him when he arrived with us have seemed to fade away.
Oh Lord, remember those you have called to yourself, and call them again. Call your child Ed, Lord, and keep calling until he hears and obeys.