Matthew and I have just returned from San Francisco where we visited friends and basically just ate a great deal. I had met Sara Miles and Paul Fromberg from St Gregory's at greenbelt this Summer and it was love at first theological conversation. If you have not read Sara's book Take This Bread, you really should. She's a real writer, that Sara Miles. The story she tells is of feeding and being fed. Raised as an atheist, she writes about feeding and being fed as a child, as a cook in New York, as a new mother, and as a reporter in Nicaragua during the Sandinista thing. Then one day she accidentally walks into St Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco and is fed by the meal for which she had always hungered but had never known: Christ's own body. Her life is transformed as she feels the mystical welcome of God at the table. Seeing at the altar that the gifts of God are free and for all she is compelled to extend the welcome. The result is the food pantry. Every Friday the church at St Gregs extends the table to the hungry. Around the altar each Friday there are piles and piles of food. 600 people each week are given the gifts of God: free and for all. No I.D. required. No proof of income. Hunger is the only requirement, which is true of all of us. The pantry is run by the people who have come to it. Then volunteers from the community help out as well; when we were there Friday a group of Macy's volunteers were helping out. But the workers who run the pantry RUN THE PANTRY. As Sara says, "It's good for middle class people to be bossed around by folks with no teeth."
Sara has to be one of the most amazing people I've ever met. She really believes this Jesus stuff. Her ability to love and be loved made me tear up more than once. I don't know that those of us raised in the faith can really know what Christianity means unless we learn it from converts.
Sara and I cooked the lunch for the 50 volunteers and she kept introducing me as "Nadia, she used to be a cook" only sometimes then adding "She's a priest in Denver". But it was my ability to dice and saute and enormous pan on onions in only minutes that counted Friday. At one point Sara looked at me over the insanity of the kitchen busyness and said, "I know we will keep seeing each other at conferences and speaking events, but I selfishly want to only hang out with you in places where we can cook together".
Before leaving she anointed my hands and prayed God's blessing on me. The red stole I will be ordained with today is a gift from their sacristy. I have no idea why I get to have such amazing beautiful people in my life, I just pray that I get to keep them.