Doug and Thelma Wright lived in Doug’s grandfather’s old farm house up East Road about a mile from the church. They were both born and baptized in our church, and they got married there right after Doug returned from building ships during WWII. They never left after that. They remained until we buried Doug in 2009. They had been married for 63 years. Thelma died last year. They were both in their nineties when they passed. They had been members of the church all their lives.
One of my fondest memories of being as pastor, was walking through the kitchen door into that old farmhouse and smelling their big, wood burning stove. Many wonderful things happened next to that stove. This is one of them:
Afterward, I stood with Doug in the middle of the kitchen next to the stove. I took his hand in mine and prayed for this family and his health. At the end I concluded by looking him in the eyes and making the sign of the cross across the top of his freckled, balded forehead. “You are a pillar of our church,” I said. “After 90 years, you are a pillar.” I looked down. Thelma was seated in the chair at the table. I turned and crossed her forehead as well. “And you too Thelma.”
“Well,” Doug said slowly, “we’re not as involved as we used to be. Can’t come to all the meetings like we used to could.”
“I know,” I said, “but that’s the thing about pillars. They’re often hidden; but everything you see depends on them. If they weren’t there everything would fall.”
Thelma rose up from the chair to her full stature of 4’10” tall. She was old and frail, but the Spirit was still strong.
“Well, she said, “then I hope we’re strong posts.”
“You are,” I said. “You are.”