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  • Writer's pictureFr. Daniel S.J. Scheid SCP

What is Father Dan Thinking? 8-20-23


As I sit in the chancel, waiting to begin six-o’clock morning prayer I hear the plaintive “who-hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo” of a mourning dove, and in antiphonal response I hear the fog horn in the bay blat in its cautionary voice. I hear the one-two, one-two pulse of the sneakered feet of people breaking the dawn with an early run. Depending on the day, I hear the grind and bang of refuse trucks, noisy pill-bugs scarpering up our leavings. When it’s time, I stand and hear myself say “The angel of the Lord brought tidings to Mary,” and my prayers and praises join with the world’s.


+++++++


We opened our doors to two dozen mourners last Thursday morning. A beloved thirty-year neighbor to many, Alston Laughlin, the “Mayor of Page Street”, never woke from a fall down her front stoop. She was 76 and left behind an 89-year-old widow Tosca, two children, and several grandchildren.


Francesca, Alston’s daughter who lives out of state, left a message on the church phone, asking if we might hold a brief service here, as Alston had been baptized in an Episcopal Church in Seattle. After a bit of phone-tag, Francesca and I finally spoke and my answer was, yes, of course. She didn’t ask for much, simply an hour for people to gather in a place more sacred than the planned memorial luncheon at a venue across town.


It turns out I knew Alston, not by name but by dog. We met several times in the Pan Handle. She walked their dog Winston and I our Maggie. I made the connection when Francesca mentioned Winston’s name. I gasped in astonishment and grief. Alston never failed to compliment Maggie on her good looks.


Francesca asked how much it would cost to gather at All Saints’. I said we wouldn’t charge them anything. It’s part of my ministry as a parish priest and our ministry as a parish church. She wept when I said that. I expect money wasn’t the issue, but rather the “one more thing” that always accompanies burying the dead was wiped away. Like her tears. And Alston’s.


God’s blessings and peace,


Dan+


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