From the other pew...

Offerings and essays from our parishioners.

Ashes to goStanding out next to the entrance of Shaw's, next to a low table and wooden cross from the Canterbury Room... right next to what looks to be the folded components of a Salvation Army red kettle stand, wondering if it's easier for people to pitch donations into a red kettle than it is to receive ashes...

A curious teen on his way out of Shaw's with his mother, changes his path, walks confidently up to me decked out in cassock and surplice and says, "What's this all about?" After a brief and pleasant exchange about ashes, Ash Wednesday and Lent, he thanks me for my time and continues on his way.

A smartly-dressed middle-aged woman on her way into the store, glances at the sign, smiles and walks over. After she and I discuss how she's more comfortable assisting her church in preparations for events than in attending services, she eagerly accepts the offering of ashes and says she wishes her mother was with her now as her mother was going to be unable to attend Ash Wednesday services at her own church. She then decides that rather to go in to Shaw's immediately, that she would instead drive back to her mother and "share" her ashes with her. After checking with me to make sure there were sufficient ashes on her forehead and gratefully accepting the abundance of a "second helping", she strides off with purpose to share this sacrament back home.

A tall aged man, proudly wearing the billed cap of a Viet Nam veteran, approaches me from some twenty feet away saying, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." After complimenting him on his knowledge of the observance, we share sacred time together as he tells me of his youth in the Episcopal Church, his consideration of a vocation, and his choice rather to enter the Air Force. He tells me of his profound personal faith, in his guardian angel who not only saw him through the war, but two car accidents which totaled both cars but left him with only a small scar on the back of one hand. He tells me about the people he meets making deliveries to hospitals and nursing homes-- people facing doubt, uncertainty, fear and their own mortality. He tells me of the comfort he has provided them in offering them simple bead crosses and the promise that Jesus' love is always with them, regardless how desperate their situation. I offer him ashes, presuming he will accept because of his familiarity with them. He defers. He tells me that Jesus has forgiven him so many sins over his lifetime.... and yet, I wonder in his refusal of ashes if perhaps he's still unable to forgive himself. I express thanks to him for being a guardian angel to so many in his own right, and we wish each other peace and a wave as he goes his way.

"Almighty and merciful God, you hate nothing you have made, and forgive the sins of all who are penitent; create in us new and contrite hearts, so that when we turn to you and confess our sins and acknowledge our need, we may receive your full and perfect forgiveness, through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen. "

Representing the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedienceWhen St. Francis encouraged the formation of the Third Order he recognized that many are called to serve God in the spirit of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience in everyday life (rather than in a literal acceptance of these principles as in the vows of the Brothers and Sisters of the First and Second Orders). The Rule of The Third Order is intended to enable the duties and conditions of daily living to be carried out in this spirit.
- Living with the Principles of the Order, Day Four

Over the past two months I’ve shared a bit about my journey so far in my vocation as a Franciscan, and why I believe Francis of Assisi’s path in living the Gospel has relevance today. This month I’d like to share a bit of what this Franciscan path translates to in my daily life and practice.

Read more: Daily Life as a Franciscan

St. FrancisLast month I shared an article describing in part my calling as a novice in the Third Order or the Society of St. Francis. But what is it that compels me to pursue a Franciscan way of life? What is it that I find so very compelling about this 13th century character… this little poor man of Assisi?

It is true that St. Francis, as Br. Samuel of the Society of Saint Francis puts it, “is perhaps the world’s most well-known and best-loved saint. The rich young man who gave away all his possessions (and some of his father’s too!) to go and live among lepers, the nature mystic who preached to the birds, the peace-maker who travelled to Muslim lands to try and convert the Sultan of Egypt… all this and more puts Francis among the Top Ten of saints; even school children know about him.” There is also however a risk to sentimentalize and romanticize Francis; to relegate him to garden statuary and bird baths.

Read more: What is Francis’ appeal?

Followers of Francis wear the tau cross as a "seal" of their own commitment, a remembrance of the victory of Christ over evil through daily self-sacrificing love.
"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Over the past year, I’ve shared bits and pieces of my spiritual path with a number of you, but I’ve been thinking and been asked that I should probably be more deliberate in offering a broader explanation of my on-going discernment and vocation as a Franciscan; especially as it’s not a familiar path to many…

Behind me on the wall of our “back room” where Jane and I spent most of our indoor time when not making music, hang two plaques; one, a gift from Jane with the inscription by Ralph Waldo Emerson above, and the other an icon of a dancing St. Francis of Assisi.  Located behind the icon of St. Francis are two documents.  One is a single sheet of paper documenting a vow I made last May:

“I, Steven Eubanks, dedicate myself to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ as a Novice in the Third Order of the Society of St. Francis; and I undertake to keep, by God’s grace, the rule of life I now present upon the altar.” 

Read more: A path less taken...

Whoever said that highways

Are boring

Hasn’t spent much time

On Vermont Route 89.

Round every bend

Is a different scene,

A new adventure in life!

 

On my first day to a new job

The snow lay crisp and white

A blanket of land that

Spread like white ermine.

I knew it would become

One of my favorite scenes.

 

For there in the midst of the field

Was a herd of

Black angus, looking for

All the world like a painting.

No movement, other than the

Steam from their breath

Drawing chalk marks

in the sky.

 

Stunning in its clarity,

 The breath shot from me,

And I had to pull over,

So beautiful the picture,

Mother cow, nose to nose

With her offspring,

A bond as pure and untouched

As any new born

mother and child scene

that I could have witnessed.

 

And I can see them still

Even when the grass is green

Or the last of the leaves

have fallen from the trees.

 The memory is mine to keep.

More Articles...

  1. The Route 89 Odyssey

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