Spoken at the 10/20/21 The Vine Service
In honor of Stewardship month – I wanted to share with you my spiritual journey, how I arrived at Grace and why I pledge to Grace.
I use the term spiritual to include all faith-based practices. My spiritual background started with my parents and their parents. My mom was from an Irish-Danish catholic family, born in San Francisco and baptized in the catholic church. She was later confirmed in the church at age 16 and then she slowly stopped attending. My father’s parents were from Missouri and Texas. My father’s father was raised Southern Baptist, but he did not agree with the fire and brimstone that he encountered – so my paternal grandparents raised their children with strong morals but without a formal church ministry.
After I arrived, I was also not raised in the church. Our family celebrated the traditional Christmas and Easter but that was it from a faith or spiritual basis. Then, in my late twenties, 1996, I was introduced to and become immediately hooked on Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Through the weekly asana practices I was exposed to chanting, OMs, (which I was embarrassed by) (over the years) the eight limbs of yoga, limited Buddhist sayings, i.e. choice follows acknowledgment, Rhumi’s – the guest house, etc. All of these Yogic / Eastern influences made me more curious about what spirituality meant and more open to other spiritual frameworks and faiths.
Around this point in time, the later ought’s, I was introduced to Tricia because my aunt saw her walking down to take communion at a non-denominational church in Palo Alto – also attended by my aunt’s family. This Church, Companions on a Journey, was led by a former catholic priest, who was also a mathematician and PhD psychologist. His spiritual framework referenced universal truths across multiple great faith traditions, i.e. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. Tricia and I in our pre-marriage courtship would travel to Palo Alto a few times a month to attend Father Sean’s church service together. We were also married by Father Sean in 2009. Fast forward to our later lives in SF. We were looking for a spiritual home. We had attended the Good Friday services at Grace and then in 2013, I decided that I wanted to be baptized and went through a wonderful pre baptism class with Mark Sanger. Mark helped me understand Jesus Christ’s message for my brand of spirituality and Christianity, which would center around service and forgiveness. I had my individual practice that needed and proudly joined the Community of Saints at The Great Easter vigil that year.
Fast forward to 2016 after inconsistent participation in the Sunday 6:00pm, which we really liked, we were able to support and be part of the early days of The Vine, which absolutely agreed with my spiritual inclusivity and curiosity. The more we give the more we received.
Fast forward to 2017 – our two daughters, Clementine and Julia, were born in San Francisco and baptized here at Grace. – In 2019, Tricia joined Stewardship and later the board of trustees and I joined the Stewardship Committee. Tricia and I have had the opportunity to both participate in Grace and be recipients of what Grace gives back to us – for which we are incredibly thankful.
Advance forward to today – we are all companions on our own journey to understand how to further explore and practice our individual brands of spirituality. Grace provides a very large tent that has room for all who are different points on their own continuum of spirituality and piety. You can see this in the wonderful range of ministries from the Sunday 11:00 am to The Vine to Yoga. I pledge to Grace because I want to give back to this building, this organization, and the macro and micro-communities it sponsors. I receive more than I give from supporting different services and committees at Grace. I believe in Grace’s mission of reimagining church, and I appreciate and support the inclusivity that Grace continually demonstrates. I also appreciate the relationships within the communities that we have been able to develop, and I love seeing our daughters grow up in this church.
Thank you for listening. And, thank you for continuing to support grace.