Monday, May 4, 2009

Visiting Pioche

It was a pretty normal week in the life here in Las Vegas -- meetings with aspirants, treasurers, wardens in negotiations with landlords, and the like. The best part may have been attending a staff meeting in which high school teachers, counsellors, and Communities In Schools folks strategized how to help four students at El Dorado High get their degrees and launch toward independent living. I hope the Church can help.

Saturday began with the Daughters of the King Assembly. They are a great group. Forget what you have heard about the secessionists on their national board. The rank and file of DOK are loyal, faithful people committed to lives of prayer, study, and service in the Episcopal Church.
They did, however, get behind on their schedule so that I had to miss the Communications Committee meeting in order to celebrate DOK's closing Eucharist and install their new officers. Fortunately the Communications folks are a forgiving lot.

Then it was on the road to Pioche -- first across the sage lands, then up, up, up to the place of buffaloberry, squawbush, scrub oak, and golden currant -- past the lower Pahranagat, Middle Marsh, the Upper Pahranagat. Green pastures with grazing sheep. The road to Pioche is perhaps the most dramatic set of topographic and vegetation changes I travel. On the way back Sunday, we saw Cathedral Gorge. Picasso would surly be envious of what a prehistoric lake can do with minerals. The Panaca Formation and buff cliffs are a wonder.

Pioche itself, to the ousider, is a beutiful little mining town rich in Old West history. We visited the million dollar courthouse and saw the truly draconian dungeon of a jail. It wasn't what we used to see on Gunsmoke by a long shot. That was coddling criminals by comparision. Frankly, no movie or tv western has shown anything like this grim. But maybe it was the times. The docent said they had burried 78 victims of violent death in the local cemetry before they buried anyone who met a natural end. I said Pioche is a beautiful little mining to the outsider. I am told the place is regarded by its neighbors, Caliente, Alamo, and Panaca, as still being a bit rambunctious. I, however, have not seen that side of it.

Once in Pioche, our friend Matthew and his partner Randy fed us dinner, a first rate chile prepared by Matthew using his own special recipe. Over dinner we plotted how to get him started in a micro-enterprise of producing and purveying fair trade salsa.

The 20 folks good and true who came to church on Sunday were lively and engaged. We had a good conversation afterward over a tasty potluck lunch. They had two pressing concerns. One is the need to insulate the walls and put siding on outside. The other is their desire to be better connected with other parishes in the diocese. I continue to hear about this need. You expect it in Pioche, Tonopah, and Austin. But I hear it in Las Vegas too. People want to feel more connected. The Regional Vicars used to be the connectors. Now they are gone, we are going to have to come up with some new way to help people know they belong to each other across these poignantly beautiful miles.


Rev. Clelia Pinza-Garrity said...

I have been thinking about the connecting us all in a better and more spiritually fullfilling way myself. I know in my soul it's going to work because we are now working on it together as a church, with many different spiritual and lay talents and gifts involved.

Matthew said...

Hi Dan, You are such a sweetie! We had a great time seeing you and Linda. And, yes the jail is worth a visit if you ever here. I would agree with Dan's assessment and only add, (a comment perhaps more appropriate for the entry following this one), that I would easily spend a night in this facility in 1870's conditions than endure what our country has inflicted on enemy combattants in recent years. Matthew Wright

Bishop Dan said...

Good to hear from Clelia and Matthew. The treatment of enemy combatant is a moral indictment of us. The moral boundary is the proper contraints on self defense -- contraints that preserve a self worthy of defending.

As for connecting our parishes in a better more spiritually fulfilling way, that is the emerging question for me. Not whether but how? I can feel the longing for connection everywhere I go. And it is essential to make the church sacramental, the earthly body and human temple of our Triune God whose divine nature is inherently relational. So how do we do that?