Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Monday, July 02, 2012

Hey, ya nevah know

Well, I arrived in Indianapolis, IN 13 hours after I left Long Neck, DE.  Delays happened - including the fact that someone broke an overhead bin in the airplane by slamming it shut and we had to wait for someone from maintenance to clear us for flight.

Prior to that, there was a bit of drama in the Charlotte Airport.  A few flights were delayed and there was a bit of a back up in the waiting areas at many of the gates. It was so hot that the AC overworked and then had a a meltdown.

Which is to say there was no AC in the airport terminal.It was like a steam bath in there. People were getting grumpy and a general sense of unhappiness came down like a lead curtain on the whole place. Hot, sweaty people sat limp in their chairs, fanning themselves slowly.

One little boy, who had been wiggling and dancing and running around suddenly fainted. It was clearly a case of dehydration but the folks called the EMTs. Standard airport policy. Which should not have been a big deal, except, if you are poor and don't have health insurance, even a fainting spell can be a big deal.

The father of the child had a meltdown. He knew his child was okay - he never really lost consciousness and that all he needed was water - but there were the EMTs who wanted to check out the child and make sure all their forms were filled out properly.

The father refused to have them go near his child. The EMTs were trying to do their job. Tempers flared. Fisticuffs ensued.  It was awful.

Turns out the reason the family of four were at the airport in the first place is that they were taking the plane to Little Rock to move in with family. The father had lost his job and health insurance. Someone got sick. Medical bills were running up with no way to pay them. They lost their home and were taking the last of their money to fly everyone to Little Rock to live with family.

The last thing this man wanted or needed was another medical bill he couldn't pay. The EMTs were great. So was Airport Security. They assured the family that they would not be billed for examining their son to make sure he was okay.

Someone started to pass a hat to take up a collection for the family. I'm not sure how much was collected but I can tell you that when I put in my $5, the hat was filled with $10s and $20s.

When the hat filled with money was given to the family, they broke down and wept. It was enormously emotional. The father muttered a thank you and said something about how his faith in the American people was restored.

The mother said something about wanting to give her child water but couldn't afford the $2.50 per bottle that's charged at the airport. Someone gave her an aluminum water jug and told her that she could bring it in empty through security and then fill it up in the bathrooms (I saw no fountains in the airport terminals). She wept and said, "Yes, of course, I feel so stupid. I should have thought of that."

The young man who gave her the aluminum water jug said, "Hey, I've been traveling for years and I just figured this out a few months ago. When you're worrying all the time, it's hard to think creatively." Ain't that ever the truth!

I finally got into my room and had a bit to eat around 9:00 PM.  Unfortunately, the AC in my room wasn't working but by the time I figured that out, it was around 11 PM. I think I finally got to sleep around 3 AM. Sweet Jesus, it was HOT.

The AC is now fixed, as is the phone by the bedside (which wasn't working), and the refrigerator in the "suite" - which also wasn't working - has been replaced. The Caucus Booth is almost all set up - it takes a while to stop and visit old friends and introduce yourself to new ones.

It's terribly hot and humid here in Indy. The AC in the hotel lobby and Convention Center runs from lukewarm to icy cold, depending on where you are.  It's wise to dress in layers.

The best thing, however, is that there is an above ground glass tunnel which runs from the hotel to the Convention Center. It's air conditioned.

I've never liked those tunnels. I especially don't like the ones that run from Newark Penn Station to the various law firms and hotels in Newark. God knows, we don't want people to have to have their feet soiled by the gritty Newark streets.

I spent an hour walking around the Convention Center and its environs, just to get my grip. It's a very walkable city, it seems to me, and people here are obviously used to having lots of guests. The place is clean and there are lots of fountains and trees and cafes and restaurants and all the amenities one would expect around a Convention Center.

All that having been said, I'm so grateful for that tunnel. It's a quick stop on the second floor from the lobby and off you go into the air conditioned tunnel. Lovely. It should make my day a bit easier especially in this Midwestern heat and humidity.

If you had told me before I came here that I would be loving this tunnel I would have laughed in your face. Look, ma. I ain't laughin' no more. Hey, ya nevah know. And, nevah say nevah.

Speaking of which - I ran into a woman with whom I've worked on various projects in the past. This is her first convention, but she's no stranger to the Episcopal Church. What I didn't know about her is that she was raised Jewish and has never been baptized. Why would I know that? I mean, she's very active in the Church - although not 'a' church - and, well, I know I've seen her take communion at diocesan conventions.

She asked me to baptize her. Here. While we're in Indy.

I mean, she asked me out of the blue - well, for me, it was blue - amidst unpacking boxes and hanging banners and getting the display ready.

Turns out, she's Jewish, but her mother is still alive and she wanted to wait until she had passed before she made a public statement about her faith. "My mother is in her 70s and is in great shape," she said. "I'm not going to be in her face about this, but I'm doing this for me, not her."

She's read my essay in "Water, Bread and Wine" and my blog post and she said, "Well, I know you take Baptism and Eucharist as serious as a heart attack, but you also would never deny me spiritual nourishment. I think that's very Christ-like. You're a good Rabbi and a good Priest. I can't think of anyone else I want to be the one to baptize me."

So, now on my "to do" list is spending some time with her to make sure she knows what she's doing and what it's all about, Alfie....oh, and finding a church somewhere near here that will allow me to baptize her and register her baptism.

Or, maybe we'll just do it in one of the many fountains in this city and just record it in the church's register. I don't think the Cathedral is far from here. And, I think, St. Phillip's church is right around the corner. I'll go check it out and see just how far they'll extend their hospitality.

This is why I love The Episcopal Church.

Ya just nevah know what's going to come atcha and whether or not it will be from left or right field.

But, it's all good. Even the bad stuff works out, eventually. Like that family at the airport, totally undone by the kindness of strangers.

It's like my dear friend, Father Koumrainian says, "God is God and people is people."

And, because that's true, you just never know what people God will place in your life and what you'll be able to learn from them.


Robert P Morrison said...

Great and happy stories with which to begin!

Peggy Blanchard said...

I'm sorry you had the travel struggles you did, but thankful that you saw the blessings within and shared them. Your post has made my whole day brighter, and I, too, am very thankful to be a part of the Episcopal Church. Blessings on you at Convention! And Mazel Tov to your friend!

RevMama said...

Whether it is a drink of water for a thirsty boy, or the generosity of strangers, or water in glorious fountains, or the waters of baptism, it is all the Water of Life. As someone once said, (but I forget who), too many of us are, standing neck-deep in water and dying of thirst. So drink it, share it, splash around in it, and immerse your friend in the waters of baptism.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Robert - let's hope there's a happy ending.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Peggy. Suddenly, I've got a good feeling.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

RevMama - Thanks. When I think about that conversation with her, my whole body starts to tremble. Shekinah is heeya!

Anonymous said...

I was a child deacon (under 18) and discriminated because of my age in both ministry and even denied vestry position.

The uproar over chalice bearers, female ministers and LGBT leaders is over fear of change. The Episcopal church went through a time where the most important mantra was inclusivity.

The church really did need to change a little slower and not mandate but let the parish choose and that era forced the community to change in ways that not only provided avenues for growth but also sent away much of the synod.

I am proud to be a part of the change but my point is while we need to grow, we should also respect our heritage while protecting those that need our care.

This comes from being a member of SC, GA, PA, MD, Southern CA (LB)dioceses and an active participant. I am glad to see us minister to all views that follow the creed. I do hope we will stay in step with the changes and needs and commit to what I can do to make that happen. My only negative comment is please do not force those that have been a part of this great ministry away.

June Butler said...

Oh my! So many events already. The story of the family is heart-rending, but the story of the woman who wants to be baptized is lovely.

Blessings. I'll pray the prayer for the convention.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Phillip - Not on my watch, my dear.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Mimi - Oh, how I wish you were here.

June Butler said...

Elizabeth, I wish I was there, too, to see you and all the other lovely people. Still, when I hear about the heat and your travels, my regrets are eased a bit.

JCF said...

Please extend my "Peace o' Christ, and WELCOME!" to our sister, newly becoming a Royal Priest (but as Jewish women tend to---justifiably---"give orders to G_d", maybe this is a step down? ;-p)

Moved by the family heading to Little Rock: Merciful Jesus, hold them close.

Prayers for you and everbuddy at GC, Elizabeth! :-)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Mimi - You know, flying overseas is so much easier and more pleasant than domestic travel. I wonder if there's a message in there somewhere.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

JCF - Thanks for your prayers. I'll make sure I tell 'the candidate'.

Josh Thomas said...

Someone named Ann sent me a link to your blog, asking if I could help you find a parish in Indy. Christ Church Cathedral is a stone's throw away; just follow the signs to Monument Circle or ask anyone you see.

St. Philip's is at 720 MLK St., just north of the Madame Walker Theatre; a bit longer walk from the Convention Center but very doable, in a historic part of town. All Saints at 16th & Central is also very close; racially mixed, lots of LGBTs, Anglo-Catholic.

Or, as you said, use the nearest fountain; Monument Circle has water right there.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you, Josh. that's very, very helpful. This is such a blessing, even before it's begun.

MarkBrunson said...

God is God and people is people.

I find that a worrying sentiment, in many ways.