If I hadn't wandered in to Maxwell Street Presbyterian 3-1/2 years ago, I wouldn't know Woody and that's not a scenario I like to consider. I wasn't a Presbyterian then but after my second visit I knew I'd found home. It has been a relatively short distance from visitor to member, deacon, active membership committee participant, house writer. My frequent conversations with Woody are light posts marking the distance between the stretches that are at times, dark, reflective, sometimes lonely but always filled with meaning. He has this way, that continues to amaze me, of taking a concept that seems difficult, convoluted, maddening, and untangling it into a framework that is so easy to grasp that I can't imagine how I didn't see it in the first place. He's one of the smartest people I know and has done some of the coolest things - like gotten a phone call from his Houston pal, who happened to be in space at the time. But you'd never imagine his many accomplishments, all couched in a humility that is enviable.
Disclaimer: On the subject of humility, its also important for me to acknowledge that, while I am singing praises, I do understand the difference between fact and opinion! I respect your beliefs, practices and/or spiritual journey, whatever they may be.
I'm no biblical scholar but I've learned more about the teachings of Jesus by belonging at Maxwell Street than all my former years in Sunday School. We practice inclusion, embrace diversity, encourage thoughtful examination of scripture and evangelize by doing. We have more mission projects than I could begin to describe in this space. And we start our Easter celebration by eating pancakes on Fat Tuesday.
I have grown to love Lent, a season of inward examination, when we are encouraged to fast on judgment and feast on compassion; fast on fear and feast on challenge; fast on pride and feast on courage. Though Ash Wednesday has come and gone, we are still in the beginning of Lent, a season of preparation for new life; the next step of the journey with chronic illness, toward wholeness, forgiveness and eternal peace.
Happy Lent and Happy Birthday to Woody - my pal, my champion and my hero!