Monday, June 01, 2009

The Best Job in Washington

This afternoon afforded some of those moments when my only response is to think, "I cannot believe I get paid to do this work."  

I went to visit some of our older members.  Nancy is someone I affectionately call, "Spitfire, Junior."  The first Spitfire is a feisty 95-year-old named Lois.  Nancy comes in right behind her, however.  She has a dynamic personality.  She is funny, witty, and so unique.  I love visiting her. To give you the full understanding of who she is, I should confess that I once took a 20 ounce can of beer from a member who I knew was struggling with alcohol but who showed up at the church with a tall can of unopened beer, and I knew immediately what to do with it.  I brought it to Nancy.

I then stopped by the home of 100-year-old Mabel.  Mabel was the chair of the Staff Parish Relations Committee just 4 years ago when I arrived at Mount Vernon Place.  She is this extraordinary woman who always looks on the bright side.  She always offers words of support.  Without fail, a visit will include the words, "Donna, Washington needs Mount Vernon Place and Mount Vernon Place needs you."  She'll then say, "Do you know that you have the best job in Washington?"  If I were smart, I would probably visit Mabel at least once a week - she is food for the soul, bread for the journey.

As I think about these two extraordinary women who blessed my life on this day, I am also mourning the loss of a beloved church member who blessed my life on many other days.  Dorine died last Saturday, just five minutes after my husband, Craig, and I prayed with her.  I had no idea just how holy the ground was when we were there last week.  I wish now I would have stayed later.

I have grown incredibly close to Dorine over these last four years.  Her husband was sick soon after I arrived, and I would see the two of them almost weekly.  I was with Dorine when her husband died - with her when she held onto his body and did not want to let go.  I have since been with her in her home as she grieved the loss of her beloved.  And, I have seen her several times each month since last fall when she became ill.  Dorine was an amazing woman.  She had extraordinary beauty that radiated from the inside and the outside.  She had the ability to see the best in everyone.  She was an artist who was able to see creativity all around her.  And, she was an amazingly faithful church member.  She loved her church so much.  With the exception of when she was very, very weak, not a visit would pass when she would not pray for her church and her pastor.

This prayer time is what I will miss the most.  So often, I am always the one who prays - and this is an incredible privilege.  Yet, Dorine would always continue to hold my hand after I had said, "Amen."  She would then thank God for our church and then she would thank God for her pastor before specifically praying for God to grant me strength and wisdom and guidance.  Almost always, I would leave her with tears in my eyes because her prayer was just what I needed.  I'd give anything to hold her hand again today - to pray for her and then to be touched at the core by her prayers for me.

Thank you Nancy, Mabel and Dorine for all of the ways you have reminded me that I do, indeed, have the best job in Washington.

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