It finally happened. After 19 months, the inevitable. Today, I pulled the diocesan car (still held together by duct tape) into a parking space at the Gold Country Inn in Winnemucca, the space beside a 4 x 4 pick-up with Utah plates and “R E I Drilling” on the side. I parked, opened the door, and stepped squarely into a substantial pile of equine excrement.
There was grace. This morning, while hurriedly dressing to get to McCarran Airport, I considered wearing my usual airport sandals with the Velcro straps. But I reconsidered. “One cannot go to Winnemucca in Velcro sandals,” I thought -- rightly. So I was wearing my boots from Nocona Boot Company in Nocona, Texas – home of best all round rodeo cowboy Larry Mahan. I may be a drugstore cowboy, all hat and no cow, but those boots come in handy.
Now the flashback: Last Saturday, I spent an arduous but productive, exciting, hope-lifting day in Reno with the Strategic Planning Team. They did a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis of the Diocese, then developed an action plan for evangelism – ways the diocese can help parishes share the gospel in their communities. Good stuff. Great team. Thanks to Darrell Spencer for making it happen.
Then Linda and I drove to Incline Village for the next day’s visit. But there was no room in the Inn anywhere in Nevada near Incline. So we went to King’s Beach. There was only one place with a vacancy and it was nowhere Joseph would have taken Mary. So it was on to Tahoe City, California. Desperate we stopped at a place that was not so much a motel as a group of tourist cabins – Morelatos Lakeshore Resort. The desk clerk was a young lady from Russia. Actually she looked like she was from an early Bond movie. Her name was Olga and she had an accent to match. If I were more of a Sean Connery or even a Pearce Brosnan, she might have called me “James” and we would all be in a lot of trouble. As it was, I was just the old country parson. She told me all about studying public relations in college back home in Russia and how she was here for an advanced program in PR. I told her all about being bishop of Nevada and she gave us a discount. It was a very nice place but there were no lampshades. Incongruous. We spent the evening watching one of our favorite films, Men In Black.
The next day was a landmark occasion. We consecrated the church building at St. Patrick’s. The congregation has been worshiping there several years. But this year they paid off the mortgage so we could consecrate it as holy and wholly unencumbered ground. This frees St. Pat’s to devote half its income to community ministries (following the good example of St. Christopher’s, Boulder City) and become in Fr. Jim Beebe’s words, “the church for others.”