random thoughts at the start of a new year

January 4, 2012

The sun is starting to set and I do believe that the day is just a little bit longer than it was a week ago. Which is how it works. Minutes get added on to minutes and then some time in April we notice that the sun is setting and it’s a few minutes past 8pm. If it’s not cloudy. I mean we notice the time the sun sets if it’s not cloudy.

Right now the sky is covered with scattered clouds, turning orange and pink on the their undersides as they move closer to the bright strip of light that hugs the horizon. It’s kind of spectacular looking. It’s like the end of the world is right over there.

I had the good luck to start 2012 off in the company of funny, warm and generous friends. I don’t tend to look for signs, but still, I’m hoping that it is a sign of nice and friendly things to come.

Last night I remembered that it was my dad’s birthday. He would have been 86 this year. I swear I’m better at remembering his birthday now that he’s dead. When he was alive, neither one of us were good at remembering each others birthdays, or at least letting the other person know we remembered. I don’t know who started forgetting first. I’d like to say him, because he was a crappy dad, but it could have been me, because he was a crappy dad. I don’t mean for this to be a crappy dad story, though, because remembering his birthday makes miss him and makes me wish I would have written his birthday down on a calendar and called him every year no matter what kind of dad he was.

January 1st was the 35th anniversary of the ordination of the first woman Episcopal priest. And I was there. It happened in the church I grew up in.

I was 14 years old when Jackie Means got ordained at All Saints church. I think almost the whole congregation was there that day for Jackie, squeezed in along with everybody else who wanted to see history happening. I don’t remember much of the service, except for Martin Bell singing one of Jackie’s favorite songs that was from a folk mass he’d composed and Jim Taylor giving speaking fervently about the historical nature the event. What I remember most were the body guards and news people and the cameras and the protestors, a number of whom came from our own congregation. They wore black arm bands. They held signs, I think. I’m pretty sure they even stood up during the service and condemned Jackie’s ordination and called it a heresy. It was sad and strange.┬áThese were people I’d grown up with, people who’d probably been at both my baptism and my confirmation, people who were kind of like a second family. After that day, they were gone from our lives.

It was amazing and overwhelming to be there. Because of the personal significance to my church family at All Saints and because I really loved Jackie and was cheering for her the whole way and because I’d never been as close I was that day to experiencing a cultural shift. I was sitting there and something historical was happening 10 or 20 feet away from me, which would change the Episcopal church forever.

Strangely, I barely remember Jackie at all that day, a day that changed her life forever too. I suppose that’s because I was 14 and in the throws of a typical narcissistic adolescence and it was crowded and hard to see and there must have a ton of people around her after the service at whatever reception was held in the parish hall. But I remember the first time I took communion from her a week late and how moving that was. But Even with my hazy memory, I’m still grateful to have been there the day Jackie was ordained and grateful to have stood with Jackie. It is amazing thing at 14 to get the chance to stand up for something real like that and I feel lucky to have been at All Saints during the years she served as our associate priest. She was good to us and good to me. Thanks, Jackie and congratulations on 35 years of remarkable service.


2 responses to “random thoughts at the start of a new year”

  1. Ann Lawrence Schroeder says:

    Liz, I was there that day also…sat in another room adjacent to the service and watched it on TV due no room to sit. There was an anniversary event this year for her on Jan 1 at St. Matthews…. I was always so glad to be a part of history…..

    BTW, love to read your writings….Wishing you a Happy 2012!

  2. liz says:

    That is so cool that you were there too, Ann. I didn’t remember that there was TV and overflow room. I’m trying to picture where that was and guessing it must have been in the parish hall. I went to Jackie’s 20th anniversary the year before I moved out here. It was held at All Saints. Beautiful service. Plus, it was a mini All Saints reunion.

    Happy 2012 to you too and thanks for your kind words about my writing.

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