The ministry trip that I made to the Philippines the last week of February 2020 might best be described as a leap of faith. I had complicated travel plans with many connections to be made on my own. The fear of COVID-19 was on everyone’s radar, and the possibility of not being able to make my return connections raised my anxiety. On Ash Wednesday, I joined a few of my Filipina colleagues as we climbed to the top of a cliff to take a literal leap of faith into the ocean.
On Ash Wednesday 2021, I took a very different leap of faith. I was dropped off at the door and alone, due to COVID 19 restrictions, walked into Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, MD for hip revision surgery. I had no idea where I was going, nor who I would encounter in the strange and unknown place.
During my overnight stay, three different staff (a nurse, a nurse assistant, and a physician’s assistant) came into my room at different times to provide care. I noticed an accent, a last name, a physical shape that reminded me of my Filipina friends. In each case, I asked where they were from, and learned they were all from the Philippines. They asked how I knew about the Philippines. So I told them that I had travelled twice to the Philippines to help lead retreats to support clergy in building spiritual communities and spiritual practices to sustain them for the long haul of ministry. They were delighted to care for me knowing that I’d ministered among their own people.
It is 8,549 miles (as a very energetic crow could fly) from Bethesda, MD to Manila, Philippines. But somehow, just when I needed it, these dear Filipina women were at my bedside. During that long night of pain, I found joy in their presence and comfort in their ministrations. This is what I think of as “the God of it just so happens”.
“I’m never out of your sight. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too – your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful – I can’t take it all in!” Psalm 135:3-6 (The Message, adapted)
I agree with the Psalmist – God is too much, too wonderful! I can’t take it all in!” ~ Anne
These meditations are provided as a ministry in this time of pandemic as a ministry of
St. Paul’s United Church of Christ.