My wife and I enjoy the great outdoors and for the past six years have set aside one week out of the year for backpacking in the high sierra mountain ranges of California. God has created a wonderful plethora of majestic landscapes populated with a tapestry of animals, flowers and trees. Each sunrise and sunset is a unique and spectacular display of His artists talents. Bubbling brooks, raging rivers and lucent lakes reminds me of the visible sign of our Lords omniscient presence. Ah, but the expense of getting to these precious spots involves trekking for 20 to 50 miles over steep and treacherous terrain while carrying 40 to 60 pound packs. It is not uncommon in August at elevations above 10,000 feet for night-time temperatures to plunge well below freezing. Rigorous physical conditioning usually starts 6-8 weeks before the trip.
For the trip this summer of 2001, Becky was unfortunately unable to go due to obligations at work. This trip was a bit different than the previous ones in that a group of us had been planning to summit Mt. Sill (14,100 ft. Note: Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the continental USA, is 14,569 ft). The complexity of the route necessitated the use of ropes and climbing gear so our preparation began 9 months earlier. On September 1, 2001 our trek began 11 miles east of Big Pine at Glacier Lodge. The team of seven assembled at Glacier Lodge and the next day departed on foot for a two day hike to Galey Camp. Galey Camp, at 12,500 ft, is situated well above the tree-line amongst the boulders and talus along the glacial cirque at the base of Mt. Sill and a host of other 14,000 peaks. The Palisade Glacier inhabits the glacial cirque and is California’s largest glacier (and the southern-most in the country). We arrived at this majestic site on the third day, exhausted after a steep trek and encountering a 1-hr hailstorm complete with lightning and thunder. The storm created a sunset that was a fire-show of brilliant reds, yellows and oranges. On the fourth day we rested and acclimated to the high altitude taking photo’s and practicing climbing moves.
Three on us set out early the following morning to climb Mt. Sill. The route initially took us along several hundred yards of steep, boulder-filled talus to the edge of the Palisade Glacier. At this point, we donned our ice crampons and ice axes and carefully walked along the 45- degree glacier slope. Our intent was to walk across the glacier to where it met the base of Mt. Sill and begin the ascent. Although I had safely traversed a glacier previously (Mt. Lyell), these conditions were unknowingly far more dangerous. The Palisade Glacier was much steeper with a surface of solid ice warranting a rating of “black ice number 3” (equivalent to a class 5 rock climb where serious injury or death could result from a fall). After only traversing 100 yards along the icy surface, the sharp teeth of my crampons slipped and I found myself sliding feet first and faster by the moment toward the abyss below. I desperately fought to perform a self-arrest by driving the tip of the ice axe into the frozen surface but it felt like a car muffler dragging across an asphalt surface. Then unexpectedly, I found myself on my back and struggled to roll over onto my stomach. It was then that the crampons on my left foot snagged the ice, twisting my ankle and rolling me onto my stomach. This slowed me down just enough so that I was able to self-arrest in a “soft” spot on the frozen surface. My icy slide ride was over but the journey to safety and medical attention was days away.
Immediately, the other six team members focused all efforts on my retreat to safety. Within 20 minutes, an experienced mountaineering emergency medical tech whom happened to be at Galey Camp, was tending to me on the frozen ice. My ankle, which surprisingly did not hurt, had no lateral movement and could not support any weight. After bandaging and splinting the ankle, I hobbled, crawled, and slid over and down rocks for eight hours with able assistants to an intermediate campsite that had been assembled. I cried. I prayed. God is merciful, God is great. Sleep that night was difficult, punctuated every 30-45 minutes by a painful and throbbing leg. The next morning I deliberately crept down the mountain for another two hours for a rendez-vous with a cowboy named Murt and a giant white gentle horse named Moose. Finally, after a 3 hr horse ride, I was at my car and civilization. Thank you Lord. Six hours later I was home, where I showered and ate some grub before being driven to the ER at 10pm. My fibia had been broken at the ankle in three places, with minimal tendon or ligament damage and no surgery needed (apparently the little walking I did helped to set the bones). My body was battered, bruised and beaten. For the next two days I slept. Many thanks for the visitors, phone calls and cards.
……On Tuesday September 11, 2001, Becky called me from work and informed me of the horrific events unfolding in New York City, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon. From the comfort of my bed, I switched on the TV. For the next two days I watched in stunned silence as the tragedy unfolded about the malicious evil a group of terrorists had committed to innocent people in our homeland. I tried to rationalize, analyze the events, but could not. Who? What? Why? Where else? Over 6 thousand innocent lives lost including rescuers and good samaritans. The suffering and desolation endured by those loved ones left behind: spouses, parents, children, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, friends and co-workers. Memorial services were being held to eulogize the deceased. The suffering I had endured over the past several days paled in comparison. The loss of use of a leg for 4-6 weeks has made me more thankful for that leg. But can you imagine what the loss of a loved one, never to return, must be?
People are rallying in unity around our flag, country and God, yes God! In the days following the attacks, I have seen and felt God’s presence rise from amongst His people throughout all nations. Our towns, cities, statesman and leaders of this great nation are calling on God for comfort and peace. Songs of His praise and glory are echoing throughout our nation like never before. Why is it that for so many, a great tragedy is needed to rally to God? We should rally to God even in times of joy; singing and praising His name to all the ends of the earth. I pray that the people of our nation and around the globe, continue to outwardly and publicly praise and worship God. God has a plan for each and every one of us. For salvation is by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, from Romans 5, verses 2-5: “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” In His Name, Joe Arlauskas
The vestry has been thinking about spiritual vitality at St. Andrew’s. Spiritual vitality is hard to define, yet we know it when we feel it. I saw it at our recent Easter service in the sweet violin sounds, the beautiful flower cross created by the children, the swaying streamers and the uplifting hymns. I have seen it at our beach services when people are bundled up in blankets on a chilly Sunday morning, listening to our teen band perform and watching the sea gulls fly by.
Where have you spotted St. Andrew’s’ spiritual vitality? Perhaps you have felt it at the parish breakfast, which benefits our Friday lunch with joyful men cooking, serving and laughing behind the counter and generations of chatty parishioners enjoying a meal together.
Perhaps you have seen it through the children of Saint Andrew’s: playing peek-a-boo with you across the pews, little hands reaching out for communion or hearing joyful noises and feeling palpable energy as we walk by the playground.
All of these things are signs of the spiritual vitality at St. Andrew’s, but spiritual vitality doesn’t happen on its own. I believe that spiritual vitality is God’s love shining through us. It is people who create spiritual vitality when they are moved to come together, combining good works, passions, special talents, generosity and love for one another. God moves us in these ways.
Your vestry is thinking deeply about how we can propel spiritual vitality in our community. One of our plans is to support a joint fundraiser with our wonderful preschool to pay for a new, more modern and safer playground for all our children. Our obsolete playground needs new fencing and playground equipment that complies with current standards. This project will give us the opportunity to come together with an expanded Saint Andrew’s family to enhance our campus, delight our children and keep them safe. Reflect for a moment about how you can support this joyful effort with your ideas, participation or financial support. Join us in propelling spiritual vitality at Saint Andrew’s.
Spiritual Vitality: Is it community and the feeling of belonging? Is it our heart strings being tugged? Is it a peaceful happy bliss? I am not sure, but I see it at Saint Andrew’s and I know we will see more of it in our bright future.
While attending Maundy Thursday services in the past, I had never participated in the foot washing ceremony, the reason being… pure vanity! I’ve never liked my feet (sorry Dad, I know they’re your feet); they are big, I have a bunion, and, at least to me, my toes are funny looking. My mom would always answer my complaints with, “But you’re tall, your feet are proportionate, and they support you so well.” Didn’t make me feel much better as I longingly gazed at her size 6’s.
One of the perks of aging is that you stop caring so much about what others think, thereby squelching some of that vanity. Last Thursday, during that most solemn and inspiring service, I didn’t think twice as I removed my shoes and stepped forward to have my feet tenderly washed, then kneeled and washed the feet of the next person. I won’t say whose feet they were (you know who you are), but they were small, with perfectly graduated, artistically painted, tiny toes!
On the drive home, I found myself crying tears of humility, happiness, and of a feeling of Christ within me, and I made a promise to God that I will never again complain about the perfect feet He gave me.
Next year, on Maundy Thursday, perhaps you, too, will feel compelled to come bare your feet and your soul and feel the love of Christ in the hands and the water that caress your beautiful feet.
Many years ago, I was part of a young adults’ discussion group. This was a great group of people – passionate about their faith, eager to be in relationship with God and one another, and not afraid to ask ourselves difficult questions – much like the groups I’ve been blessed to find at St. Andrew’s. When it was announced one evening that the topic for next month would be the parable of the prodigal son, I remember thinking “Oh, that will be easy. I know that story.” I did know the story, and had known it all my life. In kindergarten, I had colored in simple line illustrations of the muddy prodigal son surrounded by pigs; I had been to youth retreats where I was encouraged to think of the ways in which I needed to spiritually turn around and go back home; I had heard sermons discussing how damaging we are to others when we behave like the older brother. I knew the story, and I knew what it meant. So I arrived at that month’s meeting, looking forward to a pleasant evening with some good friends going over some familiar ideas.
We sat there, discussing the story, sharing our faith journeys. Sometimes we were the prodigal, sometimes we were the older brother. The evening was pretty much going as expected. But then, something surprising happened. During one of those occasional lulls in conversation, one of the members asked off-handedly, “How come we’re never the father?” A short silence followed. People sat up a little straighter, leaned in towards one another, and there was a new sense of energy in the room. Together, we realized that, while eagerly discussing who we are, we had missed what we are called to become. That evening, the story we had known all our lives was suddenly unfamiliar, something new, something fresh.
We are the prodigals, we are the “good children” – often simultaneously. The call of the Gospel, though, asks us to transcend both those roles. Jesus wants us to be the father – loving, forgiving, and deeply hospitable. The father doesn’t make the son apologize, doesn’t wait in the living room for his child to come to him, stammering out his repentance. No, the father runs out to embrace his son before his son has even spoken. “How come we’re never the father?” What a difference that question made! A story that had been a call to introspection, to self-examination, had suddenly become a call to action, a reminder of our purpose in the world. We left the discussion group that night revitalized. Our little community learned a new story.
Since that evening, I try to resist the temptation of think of the Bible as “something I’ve read,” or “a story I know.” I discovered then, and continue to discover, that God always has new stories for us, and I need to pay attention. For me, the St. Andrew’s community is essential to that attentiveness. Someone will ask a question or make a comment, and I’m given a new idea to explore. Whether it’s watching a little girl bouncing up to receive the Eucharist in a princess dress, an unexpected question at the adult forum, or a casual conversation at coffee hour, something happens to remind me there is always something new. God has a lot more to say to me, to all of us. I may have “been there, read that” many times, but something exciting is waiting if I’m willing to let go of the story I’m so sure I know.
In Revelation, we see Jesus, sitting enthroned in glory, saying “Behold, I make all things new.” We take great comfort in this assurance of things to come. We know and love that story. But…….what happens if “behold, I make all things new” is also an invitation to find the fresh and new dwelling within the old and familiar? What if Jesus is telling us to “behold” right this minute? What new stories might the Spirit be waiting to tell us? ~ Catherine Campbell
If you’re anything like me (and, if not, just play along), you might spend some idle time wondering just how the big Bible set pieces actually unfolded. I’m writing this during Epiphany, so I’ve been pondering how the Magi got to Bethlehem. What were the logistics of this trip, and, specifically who made the arrangements? I mean, those camels weren’t gonna feed themselves, and who was mapping out the route to the next oasis? My guess is the three kings were too busy looking to the heavens and calculating algorithms to the Bethlehem Star to worry about that night’s dinner. I’m thinking there was some unknown go-to guy or gal who made the arrangements and remembered to pack the frankincense.
It seems there’s always someone in a group who can keep the big picture in mind while still attending to all the details, usually without needing any fanfare or recognition. One of the unsung heroines in our St. Andrew’s story is Estela Le. Over 13 years ago when Tim Lyons began the Friday Lunch for the Community, it was a one-man show. That is, until week two when Estela, her mom, and her son, Shaun, came to check out the lunch program and make sure, according to Tim, “it was all cool”. At the end of the meal, Shaun wondered if they could help do the dishes and, as Tim was busy cooking and serving, Estela led her team to the kitchen. They started helping out, and, in Tim’s words, Estela “shows up every Friday and knows exactly what to do, where everything is stored, etc.”
Every Thursday, Estela offers her support and expertise to Annie Heyligers and the Food Pantry. Perhaps in memory of her father, Estela has gotten to know many of the families “on the line” and sets aside items such as meat and poultry to accommodate folks with many mouths to feed. Estela anticipates the Food Pantry needs; over the holidays, Annie says Estela came in with a friend and cleaned shelves, washed floors, and disposed of trash. Estela knew Annie worked hard at the Food Pantry and wanted her to start the year fresh. “But no one works as hard as Estela”, says Annie. For her part, Estela says the Friday Lunch and Thursday Food Pantry are “very, very special to me”. She looks forward to Thursdays and Fridays when she can “give of her heart”.
Estela also helps Leslie Hernandez with Fellowship special events and is an invaluable resource to Debbie Hickson and the Christmas Gift Shop for the Food Pantry clients, especially interpreting for our Spanish-challenged volunteers, like me. On a personal note, I remember how friendly and patient Estela was with me when I first started helping out in the kitchen for special events. She always has a huge smile and a welcoming hug when I see her around campus.
After several years of volunteering, Estela formally became a part of the St. Andrew’s team when she was hired to replace the janitorial service that had been contracted to keep the church, parish hall and preschool clean. After just two week of Estela and her family doing the cleaning, every building looked newer and shinier than it had in years.
Estela learned the importance of community and selfless giving from her family of fourteen. When her father “couldn’t finish” the food on his plate, he’d ask the children for help. Later on, Estela realized the sacrifices her father made and how he provided for his family. A daughter of immigrants, Estela came to the US from Mexico when she was seventeen. She learned English by taking Adult Ed classes, where she met her future husband, an immigrant from Vietnam. She carried on the family tradition of caring by ensuring her three children attended college. Tim says Estela is “one of my favorite people ever. She looks for no acclaim. She keeps working no matter how long it takes to get done.” Anticipating the needs of the community? Giving with no expectation of recognition? Sounds like the definition of an unsung heroine to me. A mainstay of St. Andrew’s, Estela shows us how to let our hearts lead us to the many ways we can express God’s love to all. -Gigi Miller
Several years ago, I was asked if I’d like to visit a member of St. Andrew’s who’d had a stroke and was in a care facility. Though I’d never met her, I agreed to make a visit.
I discovered she was unable to talk and was quite emotional. I decided to go back and visit again. Knowing it was hard to communicate, I brought a small photo album of a trip I’d taken. I learned she had also taken many trips, so it gave us something in common. I was delighted to learn she understood everything I was saying/asking. As time went by, my twice monthly visits became a joy to both of us, as her speech was slowing coming back. Last year when I got my first iPad, I decided to take it and show her how to play Solitaire. This turned out to be very successful. We both would play together, with her making the choices. She had a birthday last August and I had the pleasure of sharing a little celebration with her and her family....a lovely daughter, husband and two grand-daughters.
Since she was formerly an active parishioner, I know she misses church a lot. She still thanks me every time I leave and that’s been almost three years.
I would like to urge people to visit the shut-ins. Even if you don’t know them, it’s worth a try. It’s so rewarding and both parties are blessed. -Marie Pike
Artist Jim Temples hold Station 11, "Jesus is Nailed to the Cross"
In his Washington State Cougars baseball cap and jeans, Jim Temples doesn’t look like an artist. He looks more like a track coach, which is what he was for many years, first at San Dieguito High School and later at Torrey Pines. He grew up in a household that encouraged creativity, but it wasn’t until after he and his late wife Carol visited Rome in the mid-eighties that he started seriously pursuing the craft of wood carving. He lights up when he describes the experience he had there, as he touched the hem of Michelangelo’s Pieta. “My eyes said fabric, my fingers said cold stone. And Jesus said, “Start carving, Jimmy!” And start carving he did, finding that he had a talent for making the wood come to life. Still, when he was approached by a group led by parishioner Nancy Aldridge to consider creating a series of carvings to mark the Stations of the Cross, he wasn’t sure he was up to the task. There were trained artists in the congregation who he thought would be better choices. Amazed that he was allowed to try to create them, he accepted the challenge and began to study.
Learning about the tradition of the Stations of the Cross was the first step. He read extensively, visited other churches, and looked at examples of the art that was used in churches in Europe. He began to form a plan: there would be 14 stations, and each one would focus clearly on the central action of that scene from the day of Jesus’s crucifixion. “A lot of the images I looked at were so complex and had so many things going on that you couldn’t tell what was really happening.”
The back of Station 9 which shows it as sponsored by the Wright family and dedicated at Harold Wright's memorial service in 2008.
While Jim was busy planning, the parish was getting excited about the project. Parishioners were able to sponsor a station, and many jumped at the chance. The stations were carved in the order they were sponsored, rather than in numerical order. The back of each station has information about the sponsor, sometimes with a photo of the person who sponsored it or to whom it was dedicated.
Jim’s gift to St. Andrew’s makes participating in the Stations of the Cross service a deeper and more soul-stirring experience. Beyond the emotion of entering into the story of Jesus’ final hours through the prayerful words and physical journey from station to station, the carvings allow you to see the passion of each scene. Jim says he still feels awe each time he looks at them, “I look at them and say ‘Thank you, God.’”