Saint Ann’s

August 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

When you enter the front doors of Saint Ann’s, you are in the narthex. Our dear friend, Elise, has been my Episcopalian history and terminology instructor; she taught me that term. She delivers lessons from her broad bank of knowledge in an off-the-cuff, matter-of-fact style, but you can tell she has a deep love and sense of pride for this place and its history. She’s devoted her life to the care and service of Saint Ann’s. Elise has been a big part of making a home here for us. We’ve spent a lot of time sitting in this magical place, just us and Elise.

Elise playing ball with my babe

In the narthex, there is a big book on the table for guests to sign in. Our names are there with the date September 4, 2011.  That was the first time we came to Saint Ann’s. I was nervous. My previous experiences with religion made me skeptical, but I hoped I could get through church without too much discomfort. We needed community, companionship.

Today, Reverend Lisa talked about the word communion, what it is, what it means. She described communion as literally communing with others, sharing the warmth of companionship. She said it’s about being a part of one another as well as a part of God. Saint Ann’s has given us that gift. We have a place here. We have become a part of instead of apart from because of the characteristic open embrace of the Episcopal Church.

Lisa also talked about how communion is meant to put us in companionship with Christ, which is a very comforting idea. But my favorite part was when she talked about what that means. She said communion, coming to the table to share with God and one another, is supposed to transform us. She talked about being mindful of what that looks like, about bringing the love and compassion we get from God into our hearts so that we can extend that same grace to others.

That is the wonderful Episcopalian call to action that I love so much. Going to an Episcopal church is like going to an AA meeting, or a therapy session. That makes it different from my other church experiences. In the Episcopal Church they tell you about the love, grace and forgiveness you get; but they move past that and get down to changing our actions and our thinking. Rather than being just recipients of love and grace, we are supposed to give it, too. What good is all this love, justice and peace if we keep it for ourselves? It’s about communion.

Lisa also said, “Come broken and be healed.” If I hadn’t already been crying, I would have started then. So much in me is broken. When we first came to St. Ann’s, I could feel the pieces rattling around inside of me, a hollow vessel filled with shards of pain. The knowledge and perspective Lisa and Richard have shared with us poured something else into my vessel. It has poured in understanding, patience, healing and peace. I am still broken, but the pieces are being knit together with the fine things we have found here. They cushion those sharp corners. They give me a chance to see a purpose in my brokenness, and a hope that I could become whole.

Saint Ann’s has changed me. The Episcopal Church reflects back to me he dearest things I have always wanted for myself. It nurtures my own goals and values. I have cried many tears in my pew at Saint Ann’s; but mixed with my tears of grief there have also been tears of relief. Saint Ann’s has given us the companionship of friends, and of God. When we wrote our name in the book that first day, we really had signed up for communion. And for transformation.