glimpsesOne of the privileges of being clergy, one of the things that makes the heartache and the frustrations worthwhile, is the regular opportunity we have to walk with people in their lives, to get a glimpse, brief and small, of what goes on in people's lives.
Monday I had the honor of giving the invocation at a retirement ceremony for a former parishioner from my previous call who currently lives in OKC. The ceremony was at the Federal Building downtown
which of course replaces the Murrah building, now commemorated by the Memorial.
A military retirement ceremony always includes a biography of the retiree, which on the occasions I have attended, has led me into new insights about parishioners. How little we really know of each other in the pews.
Parishioners come and go, especially those in the military, who are constantly being transferred. It's a rare opportunity to spend some time with a family, then catch them later, wondering at the sight of children growing up, interests developing and maturing, careers flourishing and changing, sorrows and joys added.
When I started as a Eucharistic Minister, many years ago now, spending Sunday mornings as a chalice bearer, I noticed how, in the moment I shared with people and the chalice, how I felt I really saw people. When we share in distributing bread and wine at the table, I believe we have the opportunity to glimpse people as God sees them. For years, first as a lay person and now as a priest, I have found that on Sundays at the table, the struggles I have with certain people are in that moment wiped away, that God allows me to forget anger, frustration, annoyance and leave communion in its wake.
The challenge is to connect those moments at the altar with moments outside. Monday I was given one of those moments, and I am truly grateful.