Monday, June 28, 2010

A serene and serendipitous Sunday at St. Andrews

After 23 years of living a very different spiritual and religious life as a Latter Day Saint - Mormon - I made a recommitment to the religion of my childhood and returned to the Episcopal Church two years ago. The decision to leave the Mormon faith did not come lightly - indeed it came at a great personal and spiritual cost to me as my regular readers know. Suffice it to say, as a woman of color and great equality and social justice conviction, I could not bear to see the LDS Church treat gays as though they were second class citizens, in much the same way they had treated my people prior to the ACLU threatening to bring a massive lawsuit against the church in the late 1970's unless they extended a hand of fellowship to all people, including blacks.

If I had my druthers, I would often rather spend Sunday mornings in bed with a significant other, reading the Times and eating a leisurely breakfast. For my own good and spiritual wellbeing, I attend worship services whenever possible. My home of late is St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Hartsdale, New York - I love Father Joe Campo - the former Catholic priest who left the priesthood and ultimately the Catholic church and subsequently married what I believe is the love of his life - Mother JoAnne Campo.

Yesterday was a particularly wonderful Sunday and I wanted to share a couple of experiences with my readers: Devereaux is a God-fearing man - he serves as a treasurer and keeps the meagre finances of the church in order. It was his duty and blessing, yesterday, to present a small scholarship to one of our graduating seniors who desires to become an architect. He began to tell a story which I could really relate to - one day, his alarm clock sounded and he struggled to get out of bed - he was exhausted and depressed and did not know how he would make it through the day - try as he might, he could not get up. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his son, Andrew who was up for the day and getting ready for school. He was singing the R. Kelly song, "I believe I can fly". That was just the push Devereaux needed - he got up and went about his day renewed from hearing his young son's innocent admonitions - unbeknownst to the on - he had inspired his father. Devereaux then sang the song, with the congregation joining in, many in tears, myself included and exhorted the young graduate to listen to that song as she becomes discourages through the course of her college career.

I needed to hear that story for myself - I had such a difficult week - struggling to maintain my equilibrium with my bi-polar and to complete a large amount of work for the final portion of my religion class at Concordia - I wondered why I was incurring such debt at my age, working so very hard and given the challenges of bi-polar disorder and how that affects my mood and learning capabilities - I struggled to comprehend whether I had truly made the correct decision.
After listening to Devereaux speak, i knew that God had indeed spoken to me and led me to Concordia College, a small private Lutheran college, where I could learn in small groups and learn more about him and his teachings.

After the service, I was once more blessed to meet new friends from Riverdale, Caroline and her partner, a former CUNY English professor - a gay couple at St. Andrews! They have been together some 20 years and are clearly deeply in love. I joked with them that if only gays could marry (in New York it is still not allowed but we are hopeful it will pass the legislature next year - third time is, after all a charm) - they wouldn't marry straight. I shared that I wish I had had Eunice as a professor and she indicated that she has mellowed with age and I probably wouldn't have liked her when she was teaching - she was evidently hard on her students in those days and admitted as much. Eunice is now reviewing off-Broadway plays and loves it! In fact, I was at Trader Joe's and saw a tee shirt advertising the Public theatre that came highly recommended by Eunice.

I love Sundays - it makes for a great start to the week! Thanks to Father Joe, Devereaux and most of all to my new friends, Caroline and Eunice.

No comments: