A Word from Massachusetts
Since my semi-retirement from my responsibilities in Saint Albans, WV, I moved back home to Massachusetts where I became a part-time priest in charge of a small historic congregation in Salem. This congregation has witnessed to the love and compassion of Christ for over 277 years and continues to do so now. We are witness to the love of God as we regard all of humanity as one in Christ; whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. Breaking the barriers of human classification that divides and enslaves us to sin is among the greatest driving forces of my life, and is a God given drive.
As I move into this portion of my life, I also must confront the realities of my own vulnerability. Prostate cancer struck me well over a year ago, and I have been living with Jesus as I always have and then journeyed through surgery and now radiation. God has given me the privilege of sharing my journey with others who gather with me in the waiting room at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. We share our joys and sorrows, our hopes and our fears, our aches and our pains.
We cheer one another along. Last week when I was called for a radiation treatment, I quipped; “My turn to shine”. My companion for the day told me that the entire waiting room erupted in laughter as I left the room. “Who is that man?” several asked. “He is my parish priest,” was the proud answer. And thus the witness to Jesus’ love and healing touch tickled those within the Cox Center for Cancer Treatment at one of the world’s great hospitals.
Inside the treatment facility, as I lay on the table with a giant metal fork rotating around me and beaming its rays within my body, I saw the hand of God and sensed a healing touch within me. I saw no vision other than the hand of science and medicine ministering to me out of the gifts God so generously bestows upon the care giving community in my home city. The beaming rays of radiation give me the gift of healing and of life, and I am brim full of gratitude.
There are still moments of irritation, difficulty and impatience. Alas that is the human condition. We journey together along life’s ways but there must be those who point to God even when are alone on treatment table.
I am very grateful for the West Virginia Institute for Spirituality and for Sr. Carole Riley and Sr. Molly and the many others who helped me sharpen my skills in seeing God in unlikely places. You did a wonderful job. I am witnessing to Jesus still and as long as I am able and will sing God’s praises in season and out of season. May God bless you all.