Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday (St Columba)

  • On the road from the Swan residence in Eldorado around 8am--destination: Cairo, at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississipi Rivers, the very southern tip of Illinois, geographically (and possibly culturally) closer to New Orleans than to Chicago.
  • Enjoyed an informative tour of the old Custom House--forrmerly a federal building, now a museum, and an excellent one at that. Our docent was Louise Ogg, a parishioner of the Church of the Redeemer for many decades, and for whom the museum is a true labor of love.
  • When I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time 20 years ago, even though I knew what it was and had seen pictures and movies of it my whole love, nothing could have prepared me for the breathtaking (literally) moment of first looking over the rim. My experience in Cairo today was of the same nature, only the dark shadow thereof. This is a town that is devestated on every conceivable level--Detroit simultaneously in miniature and on steroids. Being there was surreal, blight like I have never seen. Anywhere. I fear it has passed the tipping point, and cannot even imagine what might be done to help it.
  • The Church of the Redeemer is truly a gem. Really beautiful. Sadly, the state of the congregation reflects that of the town. I pray for wisdom and vision as we seek to discern how to be faithful stewards of the assets to which we are entrusted in this diocese.
  • We had lunch at one of the very few up-and-running business establishments in Cairo, a BBQ place. The brisket was fork tender and flavorful, really good. The sauce, however, was much more Carolina than Texas, and would have gone better with pork than with beef.
  • After a banking errand (at one of only two banks in town) in connection with Fr Swan's imminent departure from the Hale Cluster ministry, we headed 8 miles into Missouri to buy gas at 3.499/gal. Sweet.
  • Then up I-57 to Marion, where we took a look around the town, including a stop by a very handsome minor league ballpark, home of the Southern Illinois Miners of the Frontier League.
  • Next up was St Mark's, West Frankfort for a meeting with the Bishop's Committee from St James', McLeansboro. Sadly, it was an end-of-life conversation about the timing for the removal of artificial life support for a terminal patient (that is, St James'). It's really heart-breaking, because these are people of faithfulness and vision. But there are just too few of them; they are worn out, and they deserve to be relieved of their burden, with thanks. They have fought the good fight, and we now await what a generous God has in store for them and for the diocese as a result of the ministry that has gone on in that place for 130 years.
  • A happier occasion was dinner back in Marion with the clergy and spouses of the Hale Deanery. Excellent cuisine at Sao Asian Bistro.

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