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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,



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