I am writing this letter for those of you with your foot halfway inside the threshold of the parish door and halfway out.  I get it.  I still feel that way oftentimes even though I am now the Sr. Warden.  While I have been attending Church of the Epiphany for over a decade now, I am still new to the Episcopal faith as I was raised Methodist and admittedly not a very devote Methodist but somewhere aligned more between a loner — and somewhat rebellious preacher’s kid — and a jock. Interesting combo, right?   Having been a lifelong Episcopalian, my wife, Laura, introduced me to The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, but it took some time before I felt like stepping a little further into those bright red doors of Epiphany.  When I think about what made me feel more interested, and more comfortable, about stepping through those doors,  a couple of things come to mind:
Laura was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011, and the love of the parish rained down upon our house in the wake of that news.  We had wonderful people bring us food occasionally during the very difficult times, but while that was certainly welcome (and even a bit of a surprise that anyone would cook us food), it was not the most important thing to me, and I know it was not the most important thing for Laura since the last thing anyone wants to smell while on chemo is a casserole cooking in the oven.  The love we felt inside as well as outside the church doors during those fearful, paralyzing times is what helped us the most.  It truly was merely a hug here, a prayer there, a simple smile and small words of encouragement…. a caring community.  At the time, I did not even know well many people at Epiphany, so it was truly comforting to know people cared even though I did not know them well. Loneliness is an enemy in times of adversity. For those of you that simply prayed for Laura and our family and for those of you that did a little more by cooking and checking in on us at home, I sincerely thank you all today for the love and care you revealed.

Laura and I started stepping through the doors of Epiphany with our two babies sometime shortly following the births of both our son, Henry (now 12), and daughter, Georgia (now 11). Like most new parents, I do not recall much from those early parenting years due to the lack of sleep and never ending diaper changings.  Being a new parent is another example of one of those challenges in life that you cannot simply “go it alone.”  You would go crazy tending to a baby’s needs alone at home 24/7.  I think many new parents will say they start going to church more regularly after they have children so that their children may be baptized and be given some religious training starting at an early age.  However, I think it is so much more than that now.  I think parents unconsciously step inside those doors again because they crave deep inside them the support and understanding from other parents (from the experienced empty nesters all the way down to the new parents just like themselves) whom they can learn from and share their trials and tribulations with as new parents without any worries of being judged.  Laura and I value immensely the other parents at Epiphany that have allowed us to share with them our pains (and triumphs) of parenting, and we likewise value immensely the willingness of other parents to open up with us and share their stories with us so we can all learn and heal and take care of each other and our children. To all the parents of Epiphany, I thank you for this.

I have come to learn that the love that is created simply by opening those doors of Epiphany and inviting anyone in to share together in God’s love and caring for everyone has a true and palpable healing effect on the human heart and soul.  The love I feel at Epiphany is simply not the kind of love you can get anywhere else. You cannot get it at work or at school or even with family. Too many other competing factors get in the way in those other settings.  This is why I step across that threshold a little more purposefully today than I did 10 years ago.  So, for those of you with one foot still halfway in and the other halfway out, I invite you to join me in the journey of stepping further across that threshold.

Peace and Love,

Bill Gary

Sr. Warden