Monday, November 12, 2012

Time for a Break - The Pacific Crest Trail

Time for a Break

A year-and-a-half. It seems much longer. That's how long I will have been in Pasadena by January. It seems so long, actually, because so much has happened. About a month ago I had a strange sensation: a moment of peace: a moment of peace in which I felt that I had done what I was supposed to do, and been where I was supposed to be, in coming to Pasadena and engaging in God's work here.

And now it's time for a break--a sabbatical, if you will, after which God will lead me into the next thing that he would have me do. Or more correctly put, God will lead me into the next lesson that he would have me learn, for every time I try to do something for God, I find instead that God is doing something for (and to) me. 

So let's review what God has wrought and continues to make happen over this year-and-a-half.

Pasadena Ministry Update

12 Step Classes: The Common Solution Recovery class for the Way Out of addiction

Church Army USA taught me this in Branson, Missouri, and I taught this in Mississippi among the scattered destruction of Hurricane Katrina. By applying the 12 step principles to my own life I  was able to grow beyond addictive behaviors triggered by resentments, fears, and unhealthy desires. In Pasadena I re-wrote the class to center it around We Have Recovered, the new book by Stephen Baughan (available from Amazon), who wrote the original class. I taught it mostly to those who were attending Fr. Charles' Bible studies and the meetings of his new churchplant. But now the supply of new students has ceased.

Working with individual addicts through the 12 Steps to recovery

The Common Solution Recovery class was useful as one of the tools to sponsor several addicts and encourage them to work through the 12 Steps. Last month, my last sponsee moved out of the convalescent home to live with his sister in Pennsylvania, and continues to work the steps and go to meetings.

A regular 12 Step meeting in a convalescent home

I was invited to start up a weekly meeting for a small group of guests in a skilled nursing facility who were interested in maintaining their recovery from addiction, and prepared the materials so that we could offer the same kind of meetings available for those who were not confined to an institution. We held a few meetings, but just as we were getting started, most of those in need completed their treatment, and the weekly meetings turned into one-on-one counseling sessions between me and my single sponsee.

Managing a Sober Living Home

Through the grace of God, I have had a place for almost a year where I can help an old friend manage a 10-bed facility for recovered addicts, where the focus was on providing a supportive environment for living according to the 12 Step principles. Since I did not have to pay rent for my own bed, I was able to afford dental care for my neglected teeth, and found a good dentist who will wrap up all his work in my mouth by early December. The population in the home has stabilized, but my interest in hiking takes me away from the home more often and for longer periods than my friend would prefer. And it is out in the forests where I find those moments of peace that strengthen me and help me grow closer to God.

Feeding the hungry and the homeless

Together with several homeless folk that I met in Pasadena, and alongside Fr. Charles Myers, we began weekly family meals in Washington Park on Thursdays, which was the only day of the week when an evening meal was not available for the homeless in Pasadena. The event grew and prospered. A few months back, a bigger, more formal free feeding was started nearby on Thursdays. The makeup of our meal group changed, and we began having behavioral problems. Since there was no longer a critical need on Thursdays, we relictantly shut the meals down..

The birth of a ministry to Eucharistic Communities 

From day one, I have been able to provide assistance to an evolving ministry of the Anglican Church of North America, that is, Saint Michael's in the City, headed up by the young down-home Southern old-time preacher Fr. Charles T. Myers. Armed with a grant for a year's lease on a church meeting space, Fr. Charles offered Eucharist every Sunday and I assisted as Deacon, also at first as Treasurer for the new church and later also as producer of the weekly bulletin from which we read our  liturgy. We had baptisms, confirmations, and an ordination. Some of our homeless folk were walking 2 miles each way to attend church on Sunday.

With the end of the lease Fr. Charles moved the Sunday Service into Villa Parke, but attendance never caught on there and sometimes it was just two or three of us. But then a new opportunity arose: There was no longer any evening meal for the homeless on Saturdays, and Fr. Charles partnered with a wonderful lady who was already heading up a meal  fellowship on Mondays. For the last two weeks we have been back in Washington Park on Saturday, offering a complete Eucharist followed by an evening meal. With the integration of these two ministries--a "Kingdom Feast"--Saint Michael's in the City has finally found a winning formula combining the Word of God with fellowship around the dinner table.

A Long Sabbatical

Saint Michael's in the City and its young preacher have done a lot of growing up in the past year-and-a-half, and I have been proud to be a part of that. Moving from here forward, Fr. Charles is looking forward to training at least two new deacons for the church. I have tendered my resignation as Treasurer, and Fr. Charles' support group is finding him not only a new treasurer, but a for-real bookkeeper. May God bless their ministry. I am sure that He has more lined up  for me to do, but that has not yet been revealed to me.

I spoke above of a moment of peace; that I had finished my work here. One of the things that influenced me to this point was the death of my former brother-in-law. I had a chance to sit with him in the hospital and share his and his family's experience as he faced and experienced the ending of his life before going to be with the Lord. Then I was able to join with his family and mine as we laid his body to rest.

Another thing, possibly brought to mind by the first one, is my upcoming birthday in May. If the Lord fails to gather me up first, I will be seven decades old. Now, there is a tradition for clerics that they go into retirement at age 70, but I had not entertained such an idea. Let us say that I am going on a year's Sabbatical, and then seeking what the Lord may have in mind beyond that.

A final impetus is my health, which is excellent. I have often entertained the idea of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and was reminded of that when I met the above young lady, who is a section hiker on the PCT. It is unlikely that I am going to get any healthier, and if I am actually going to do it, now would be the time. Should the Lord tarry, I will have time later to getting around to writing my book(s). In fact, perhaps that will be my ministry later--who can tell.

The Pacific Crest Trail

Mexico to  Canada

At the moment, I'm in the throes of preparing for a major cross-country hike: tackling a trail, which begins at the Mexican border near the humble town of Campo, California, and ends seven miles into Canada at Manning Provincial Park in British Columbia. So far, I have purchased some nice equipment (e.g. a 17-degree-rated goosedown sleeping bag), I have identified 33 waypoints on the trail where I can resupply my food and fuel (with up to 118 miles between resupply points), and I have been doing test hiking/camping trips into the Angeles forest where I am working out how to carry enough vegetarian food to take me 118 miles at a lick. I expect the trek to take at least 8 months, and to finish before the first autumn snows of 2013.

Before leaving, I have one unfinished piece of business: the Gabrielino Trail, 22 miles of trek from Arcadia up into the Angeles Forest and back down into Pasadena. Since the final section back down is closed, a detour around that will add at least 8 more miles to the trek. I will take it slow and easy, for this will be the shakedown cruise to see if I can carry enough food for a 100+ mile trek. If I do that in January, I will be ready to take the train and then the bus to Campo for the big one.

I will still be posting updates, but they will be on my personal web log,
and mostly on my facebook account for Rolin Bruno.

Look for me there!

And may God bless you all for your interest and support for my ministry and my travails.