Dear Fellow Parishioners,
The last stewardship letter I wrote was in 1997, just four years after joining Incarnation. Incarnation had already proved itself to be a port in the storm. Two years earlier, I had survived a life-threatening cranial blood clot that went undiagnosed and then misdiagnosed for a number of weeks. In fact, the night before I finally went to the ER at NYU, my doctor, whom I’d been seeing for weeks at a different hospital, determined my issue was purely psychological. The next morning, friends from church took me to the ER where, within two hours, a neurologist diagnosed the thrombosis and admitted me immediately. I spent the next three weeks there getting excellent care. But it was friends from church who visited me every day and sometimes smuggled in treats from the outside. Father Ousley brought me Communion. And it was my church friend Sarah Early, who enthusiastically shouted my name, “SUSAN!” when I finally returned to Incarnation.
In 1998, I found myself being bullied by my landlords, threatened with eviction, and in great distress over it. Incarnation was, again, my place of prayer and hope. While attending Incarnation Camp for a parish retreat, my good friend Chica Hinkle told me she had a second bedroom and that I could come live with her if I ended up losing my apartment. Ed Curtin, another friend from church, who is also an attorney, aided me in my legal struggle with the landlords and saved my apartment.
Little did I know 22 years ago, that those would be but a small part of life’s challenges. Since then, there has been the loss of both parents, helping a close family member through a difficult divorce, experiencing a job loss after 16 years with one firm, helping a loved one through drug addiction, the passing of a best friend from breast cancer, accompanying my only sister on her journey with breast cancer, and my own unexpected struggle with depression and anxiety.
Through all of these things and so many others – September 11, the financial crisis, the outbreak of COVID-19 – the things that have been constant for me are God, my faith, and Incarnation. I cannot imagine ‘going it alone’ in a secular world. God gave me the great gift of this parish; and the Incarnation family has truly been “a lamp unto my feet, and a light upon my path.” (Psalm 119:105).
I share these very personal things because I think that when we get to know one another on a more personal level, we can better relate to and care for one another on a spiritual level – we realize we are not alone.
Because of the grace of God and my Incarnation family, I have never felt alone. I have always been uplifted and supported. And so, it follows that I want to give back as much as I can to God and my community. I believe every good thing we have comes from God. I believe God wants us to have nothing but joy and abundant life. And I have learned that if I let go of my fears and put my trust in God, He does indeed provide abundantly, taking care of all my needs.
I have a feeling I’m not the only one who has experienced such love and grace poured out from God through this parish family. As we think about our stewardship commitments this year, I share this piece of scripture: “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62:8). May God and Incarnation always be a refuge for you.