This past week, we laid my grandmother to rest. Gathering in the small town she and her husband served for decades as undertakers with family, her friends and neighbors, was a lesson in a life well-lived. She passed at 99 years of age, just a half year short of a century. Doris was a remarkable woman. Living as the wife of a funeral director, she took her remarkable intellect and great intelligence and put it to work. Her business acumen was only exceeded by her personal integrity and ethic of good manners and honorable mien. If my grandfather was the rudder for the sailing vessel that was their life, she was the keel, the mast, the beam.
Though she was not a world traveler, and her personal adventures did not range very far from hearth and home, she was perhaps one of the greatest apostles I believe I have ever met.
When the Holy Spirit arrived and rested on the members of the Church, the promised gift of Jesus that would inspire those assembled to disperse throughout the world in order to carry the Gospel to all nations, the apostles were born to a new life in ministry. We tend to think of an apostle as a sort of intrepid adventurer, someone who ventures out into the world, a trailblazer. We imagine them as people who are bold and willing to venture beyond the horizon.
Why does the willingness to risk fall so easily to that ideal of the adventurer? Why does the apostle of faith so often wind up depicted as the wide-ranging voyager?
The stories people had to offer about Doris testified not to an apostle of wide-ranging journeys, but rather to a woman who was able to live a life of testimony to a faith in Christ that was soaked in Holy Spirit and bathed in grace. One story, one testimony after another came to us of people remarking how she was there for them when times were tough. They spoke of her generosity. They spoke of her faith. They spoke of the high personal, moral integrity that not only kept her feet on the ground, but also served time and again to ground others.
She was an apostle-in-place.
My prayer is that this Pentecost offers you the inspiration you need to be as far-ranging....or as close to home....as you feel fit, but that you also are able-as Doris was-to find your place in the Spirit's manifestation. May the Church live through you, and the Holy Spirit burn brightly from your heart as it touches others.