Rich Evans
St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Mountain Top

Waking up from a surgery is always disorienting.  Waking up from one that went wrong is terrifying.  I had gone under expecting a routine gall bladder removal.  I woke up unable to speak or swallow after an emergency tracheotomy was performed as a result of complications relating to my anesthesia.  I would spend the next week in intensive care without food or water, on oxygen and IVs.  I had to fight for each shallow breath and use a suction wand to keep my saliva from going down my throat and choking me.

This was not my first brush with death, and in the moments when my brain was starved for oxygen, I did have the out of body experience we hear of from others experiencing such dire circumstances.  The interesting thing is the sense of serenity at this most critical juncture.  I had no fear of a one way trip to the hereafter.  Instead, I feel that God took a personal stake in my outcome and decided that I had more to accomplish here on Earth.

The journey back to health was difficult and painful, but oh so sweet.  The outpouring of prayers and support from family and friends, including my diocesan family, made the effort worthwhile.  What is left of my life is a gift from God, and I know what is expected of me.  You see, I have had a taste of this pilgrimage experience up close and personal.  I know it is a time of sharing my gifts with my fellow brothers and sisters.  

I think each of us could stand to “wake up,” as if from surgery, and explore our purpose in depth, both individually and as members of our parishes and this diocese.  This is how we can begin our pilgrimage, knowing that God has decided that we are here not for our own selves, but to share our gifts with each other and to reach out to our neighbors with love and support.  Our work is not done!

It is to you, my sisters and brothers in the Diocese of Bethlehem, that I pledge my love and devotion at this time of transition and discernment.  Let us venture forth together, doing what is expected of us pilgrims, for the glory of God!




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