E-newsletter | February 4 , 2021
Closeted Grief:
The Silent Suffering after the Loss of a Companion Animal
Earlier this week I received a call from a friend in Atlanta. She was calling to let me know that her beloved old Boxer, Violet, had died at the ripe old age of age of 16, a very long life for a Boxer. She called me because she knew I would understand. Years before, she had witnessed me going through deep grief for two of my cats, proud, beautiful, loving creatures that had shared the better part of 19 years of my life. She knew I would not tell her “it was only a dog” or “just go get another one” or any of the other well meaning, but often cruel things we say to people who’ve lost an animal companion.

It may seem like a topic from out of nowhere, but Carol's grief reminded me not only of my own past grief, but how traumatic this can be for so many of us.

My hope is that by writing about the pain of the grief process for our companion animals, we can learn to acknowledge the real and deep grief our friends and loved ones can suffer in such times of loss. It is a real grief that psychologist recognize and declare is often as devastating for people as is the loss of human family and companions. And during these current times of intensified angst the loss is amplified even more.

My last large loss was in 2015 and was compounded by the death of two long time companions, my cats Provo and Rowdie, who died only two months apart. They were 18 and 19 years old and had been constant companions through some of the most transformative and transitional years of my life. I was still “young” when Provo and Rowdie, along with their other animal siblings came into my life. They were there through my discernment to the priesthood and seminary and they all companioned me through many big moves, and yes, they were witnesses to my passage into middle age and now “late” middle age.

Our joints grew stiff together, our daily energies changed together and they were always there at the end of a long day to reassure me everything would be alright and even it wasn’t, shouldn’t we eat and snuggle anyway?

Provo and Rowdie came to me way back when with another kitten and a puppy, all rescued from a local shelter that was desperately overcrowded.  I had never had this many animals at once, but at that time I owned a business and a house and never envisioned I would do anything but live in my happy, little island cottage in St. Simon’s Island, Georgia.  I never expected to be navigating multiple transitions and houses, condos and towns and churches with a menagerie in tow!

The one constant through all of these transitions were my animal companions. Maxie, the dog of the group passed away at age 13 in Palm Springs, Zuzu kitty died 8 months after my arrival in Seattle.  And of course now my menagerie is even larger and more diverse with two horses, three goats, a blind cow, four cats, and a dog, Rocco, whom many of you have met when he is with me at the church.

As Meister Eckhart and Francis of Assisi both testified many times, if you want to know God, look at creatures and the natural world. It has been said that they are God’s first Bible and the unconditional love of God is mirrored in the totally unrestrained love we receive from God’s gift of companion animals.

To have them in our lives is a blessing and to lose them, as we always will, comes with deep, deep feelings of loss and grief. But it is a grief that often can’t be acknowledged or observed in public as it is considered by many to be “just the death of an animal.” Those of us in its grip often feel ashamed to admit its pain because it is often seen as weakness or some other “less than” worthy attribute so it becomes a closeted grief, one we must keep secret as we work through this very complicated loss. You have only to “Google” the phrase “Loss of a Companion Animal or Pet” to begin to see its enormous impact on the human condition.

The loss of animal companions can be especially significant for the elderly and for children and for those who work with an animal partner or have service animals.

In light of how difficult a loss of a companion animal can be, I want to offer to all of you who have taken or will take this journey sooner or later a couple of pastoral invitations:

  • Please call me for pastoral support if you are preparing for the death of a companion animal or have had a loss. Your fear, grief and pain are real and worthy of support and care. This will never be considered a “frivolous” need or call.

  • After you have suffered a loss, I will help you have a memorial for your animal if you so desire. I am happy to offer the theological mandate for this should anyone want ask me, but it is also recommended by psychologist as a potentially powerful way to move through the grief process for an animal companion.

  • If you are not particularly an animal person but know and love someone who hast recently lost an animal companion and you are not quite sure how to respond, my advice is to take their loss seriously and reach out to them as you would during any big loss. A good rule of thumb is that if you would not say certain things to a person after a human loss, do not say it in an animal loss.

There are many resources on-line as I have said, but always know that I am always ready to respond to you, I will give you a safe place to explore and acknowledge your grief and you need never to suffer in silence or feel ashamed at the depth of your loss in comparison with human loss. I will listen to your memories, your guilt, (often a large part of animal companion loss), and anything else that you need to share.

The link below from Ohio State University is one that might also be helpful starting point if you need one.

Grace and Peace,
Mother Stephanie 

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Passcode: Coffee20 

Ramona Curtis and Ruth Harris are in the process of updating the church directory from 2018. If you’ve had any changes since 2018 to your phone numbers, mailing address, email address, or if you want to be added or deleted, or if you know someone that you would like to add, please email your changes/requests to:

Thank you for helping us with these updates.
Our former Parish Administrator, Vanessa Greer, has agreed to help maintain the work of the office as we continue our search for a new administrator. The office will still be closed to the public but accessible through appointments. If you call the office and do not reach a person, please leave a message.

Messages left on the office voicemail are directed to the email associated with the either the rector or administrator depending on your selection. If you leave a message someone will return your call. Thank you!

Thank you for your patience during this transition.

Outreach Supports Student Choice Food Pantry

Thanks to a commitment from ancillary Outreach funds provided by the Strickland Foundation, a Student Choice Food Pantry has been initiated at North Wilkesboro Elementary School. Each week, students receive a grocery bag and are allowed to self select meal items and snacks from tables. Food is categorized (proteins/dinner items, fruit and vegetables, snacks, and breakfast items) and students choose the amount indicated on the table. Joy radiates through the room as students choose their food for the weekend. Allowing students to have choice has given them dignity and pride in their weekend food bags. The students smile and laugh as they pick out food.

Some comments overheard:  
“My mom loves this oatmeal.” 
“I’m getting applesauce for my little brother.” 
“Thank you for letting me shop!” 
"Rice and beans are my favorite! Thank you."
“I liked picking out my food- it was kind of the best.”
If you would like to provide ongoing financial support to this food pantry, donations can be made to St. Paul's with Food Pantry in the memo line.
Thank you for your support, 
Rachel Minick
Worship Notes

For the next few weeks we will be doing something a little different with the Nicene Creed. We will be using a sung setting from The Supplement to the Hymnal, Wonder Love and Praise.


As we do so, I invite you to see how you experience this very familiar component of our liturgy differently. Will you hear something new? Will it possibly awaken your senses? Will you not like it? Will you love it? I would love to hear how it goes for you!

The Feb/Mar/Apr issues of Forward Day by Day are delayed due to post office delays.

We have a limited number of the large print issues that are available in the mailbox in front of the church office.
2021 Annual Meeting Report can be found on the website.

Copies of the 2021 Annual Meeting can be picked up from the office or we can mail one to you. If you would like a copy, please email the office to request a copy mailed to you or to schedule a time to stop by.

The 2020 Vestry Meeting minutes are now available on St. Paul's website under Vestry.

Click button to go directly there
Serving in February 2021
(Recorded Service)

Feb. 7 - Laurie Love
Feb. 14 - Tana Myers
Feb. 21 - Mary Southwell
Feb. 28 - Cindy Smith
Altar Guild

Feb. 7 - Laurie Love & Ramona Curtis
Feb. 14- Mary Lankford & Sharon Greene
Feb. 21 - Mary & Mike Southwell
Feb. 28 - Pam & Drew Mayberry

Feb. 12 -Ralph Jolly

Feb. 11 - Jack & Carol Claycomb
Prayer Requests

Prayer requests can be made by emailing the office at office@stpaulwilkesboro.org
or by calling the office during regular office hours.

Bulletins are printed on Thursday mornings and requests submitted after that time will not be in the printed bulletin for that week, but may still be spoken. Prayer requests received by noon on Wednesday will be included in the weekly e-newsletter.
Prayer List

Please remember in your prayers: All who are ill or unemployed and those who are on our prayer list.

Jim Andrews, Pam Baugh, Robert Baugh, Bella, Nancy Blair, John Brame, Rosie Carlton, Thomas Dellinger, Tina Duncan, John Farris, Laura Gentry, Karen Hennig, Doug Johnson, Barbara Kepley, Ken Love, Tyler Olender, Jordan Samuel, Delores Weaver, Bob Webber, Donna Webber

Armed Forces
Let us pray for the safety of all our troops, especially: Dr. Matthew Cage, Edward Colville Griffith, Zach Necessary Walker Pardue, Philip Southwell,
Mark Stone, Lt. Col. Patrick Szvetitz, Jason Westmeyer

and all others who serve in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world.

Please send to the church office the addresses of troops with connections to
office@stpaulwilkesboro.org, especially those abroad
The Lessons for February 7, 2021
Isaiah 40:21-31

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to live in;
who brings princes to naught,
and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.
Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows upon them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
To whom then will you compare me,
or who is my equal? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
Who created these?
He who brings out their host and numbers them,
calling them all by name;
because he is great in strength,
mighty in power,
not one is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
"My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God"?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.

Psalm 147:1-12, 21c

1 Hallelujah!
How good it is to sing praises to our God! *
how pleasant it is to honor him with praise!
2 The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem; *
he gathers the exiles of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted *
and binds up their wounds.
4 He counts the number of the stars *
and calls them all by their names.
5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power; *
there is no limit to his wisdom.
6 The Lord lifts up the lowly, *
but casts the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; *
make music to our God upon the harp.
8 He covers the heavens with clouds *
and prepares rain for the earth;
9 He makes grass to grow upon the mountains *
and green plants to serve mankind.
10 He provides food for flocks and herds *
and for the young ravens when they cry.
11 He is not impressed by the might of a horse; *
he has no pleasure in the strength of a man;
12 But the Lord has pleasure in those who fear him, *
in those who await his gracious favor.
21 Hallelujah!
1 Corinthians 9:16-23

If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.
For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

Mark 1:29-39

After Jesus and his disciples left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church | 336-667-4231 | office@stpaulwilkesboro.org | https://stpaulwilkesboro.org