Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Let's talk about food: What I love about St Barnabas
About ten years ago, my friend and former colleague Lucille, then retired and in her late 70s, fell in love with St B. A gregarious woman, she soon had many new friends there. A dozen of us gave her a confirmation party at Macaroni Grill (she's second from right in the photo).
Lucille became very active in the parish. She befriended a sometimes homeless, always challenging parishioner who contracted breast cancer. She also befriended the woman's estranged mother and helped bring the two of them together before the woman died. And then Lucille was diagnosed with cancer - first in one lung, then in her liver, then everywhere.
St B parishioners got together to talk about how to help Lucille. Some helped her deal with her dying husband. Some helped her find affordable housing. Some took her to her medical appointments. Eventually Lucille and a few of her friends from St B decided to join an Anglican parish, which was more in line with her conservative beliefs, but the caring continued from all of us. When in her last days she was moved to a nursing home, a St B member was with her. When she died, a former St B member was holding her hand.
That's hospitality, both given and received.
I too benefited from St Barnabas-style hospitality. In 2011, I learned it was time to have open-heart surgery to correct a birth defect. Rev. Donna anointed me during a Sunday Eucharist, and the whole congregation prayed for my healing. David and I flew to Cleveland for the surgery. Bob took us to Midway for the outbound trip, and Estelle picked us up and brought us home afterward. While we were in Cleveland, a priest friend of Fr. Matt's visited me in the hospital.
Once I got home and began my long recovery, St B parishioners were there to help. Sue and Shirley came over and walked me around the neighborhood. A lot of people prepared and delivered meals--Dick and Shirley, Dolores and Paul, Lisa and Bob, Richard and Cari, Mary and Dean, Jean and Bob, Phil and Ashley, Art and Gayle, Al and Sue, Katelyn, Mark and Monica, and others, I think, that I appreciated every bit as much but was apparently too drugged to write down.
I was completely overwhelmed. In a good way.
When we talk about hospitality next Sunday, there's nothing I can teach St B parishioners. I've learned from them, though, that the best hospitality isn't something I do--it's something we do together. I'm looking forward to talking about it together too.
This is part of a series of short posts especially for people who attend St Barnabas Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, IL, where I'm leading conversations about food on September 22, September 29, and October 6. I'll post about food every weekday between September 16 and October 4.