So, yez might recall that our own Major Padre Harvey was to have his ordination last night at the Gateway Community Church in Escondido. ‘Twas a bit of a shame that he couldn’t tarry until the 11th of June, for I could have stopped in on my way to Portland, it’s that far north. Or seemed it anyway.
Your humble was cordially invited and RSVP’d in the affirmative. Catching early intelligence in these here pages that Curtis hisself was on his way draped in his Service Dress Blues, I came home from the salt mines in a desperate tizzy to collect mine own and try them on for shrinkage. For as I have expressed before, uniforms that are laid by for a year or two tend to shrink a bit, just hanging there in the closet. Thanks to the Almighty, and episodic Cross Fit workouts, my latest properly striped sets fit my frame admirably even as two sets of lieutenant commander striped uniforms bore mute testimony to the ravages of time and the false economy of striping up uniforms into which one can no longer plausibly squeeze.
I very nearly committed the unpardonable naval sin of being late, for dear departed Lady, the auncient bird dog, left behind not merely a hole in our hearts but a vast quantity of dog hair which would have to be eliminated before I could appear publicly. The two-thirds members of the All Girl Spending Team remaining in residence clucked at me and shook their heads before assaulting my person with sundry and divers methods of torture designed to make me marginally presentable out of doors. Thus chafed and torn, I toodled up the highway to impossibly far Escondido, arriving just at the toll of the church bell which I actually only heard in my mind, for as far as I could tell the Gateway Community Church has no proper sort of bell at all nor incense neither.
Although my sainted pa was hisself a Baptist, his own son was raised a High Episcopalian and attended high school with the Romans, in consequence of which he has certain expectations of what it means to be at church. What he found was not flowing robes nor Elizabethan language, but earnest folks of all ages dressed up and down and filled with the Holy Spirit, celebrating the Padre’s ordination with him. The local pastor spoke meaningfully about the history and process of ordination, and kindly about the Padre’s own examination before a board of church leaders. We were invited to read with him a few passages from the bible – Timothy, chiefly – and then he then stepped through a series of recommendations that he hoped Dave would take to heart as he takes on his ministry. There was an awful lot of love in there: Love for God, love for family, love for people.
For reasons which I am not quite prepared to dwell on, I have not been in attendance at my home church here in Del Mar for quite some time, for the Episcopal Church of the USA has taken some strange doctrinal stances quite at variance with the faith as handed down to us by the saints and broken not merely the spirit but also the sense of the Anglican Communion. For a long time I ignored these things at the national level, but then they were thrust upon us close at home and what had once seemed sanctuary now seemed some sort of trial. Nor have I found a spiritual harbor near by, for the next most likely candidate outside ECUSA has issues of its own which I cannot quite get my head around. So anyway, I have been over the last several months, if not apostate then certainly unchurched. What I was reminded of while watching Dave’s ordination, is that there are many pathways to the Truth but that the Truth itself remains constant, revealing itself to each of us in the way that best fits our understanding.
I’m getting a bit lost on the margins here, but this is the thrust of it: You cannot judge Christ by his Christians, for there are too many bad ones. But I continue to believe that an authentically good Christian is definitionally a good person, full of love, caring for the least of us and dedicated towards the good. That room was full of such, some in suits, some in cargo shorts all filled with the Spirit, all of them there to celebrate this moment with Padre Dave and his lovely and loving bride of nine years that very day, Tamara.
Anyway. Dave stood up to join the pastor on the stage – there is no other name for it – and chatted briefly back and forth with him about his own road to Damascus, and where it would take him next. Dave then had a few words to share with us about how he had come to be there, working his way back to fitness after a serious motorcycle accident and his plans to join the Navy’s chaplain corps and minister to the fleet. Hands were then laid on, prayers were said and the deed was done.
I congratulated Dave – as I hope you will too – and left uplifted.