Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Grace at dusk inside our walls

Yesterday was intense and busy. Our staff underwent a training exercise on how to interact with mentally ill people, and it was exhausting. In the afternoon I had an assortment of meetings, and I began wrestling with the upcoming Sunday sermon. The readings are not so easy and I got quickly lost. By 6pm I felt quite weary, and the evening schedule held the promise of a Vestry meeting.

Around dusk, I went upstairs into the nave of the church. It was dark, but not so dark that I couldn't see.

I stood at the Altar and looked out at the empty pews. I imagined the people who fill those pews week after week and gave thanks for them and the life they bring into these walls.

Then I sat in one of the pews  where one of our families, who are away on a year-long sabbatical, usually sit. I gave thanks for them and sent them a little prayer. And I enjoyed the cool calm for a good long while.

After I time I got up and read the plaques that are in the north facing windows. I'd never really read them. One plaque is dedicated to Col. James Skinner of the Confederate Army. He left his fortune to the University of Virginia to underwrite scholarships for Episcopal students. Our students at St. Paul's still benefit from his bequest. Another plaque was to a Mr. Bryan who had been president of Mary Washington University, and was on the Board of Visitors of UVA in the 1940s.

Many people have graced these walls, saints and sinners alike. They are truly the people of God. And for a time I get to be among them, and I give thanks.

By James Richardson, Fiat Lux

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