Sunday, November 6, 2011

We are who shows up

Today, at St. Cyprian's before we handed out our 2012 Pledge Cards, our Junior Warden, Jarie Bolander spoke about why he generously supports the work of St. Cyprian's. In the weeks that follow different members of the congregation and wider community will share their passion about why they pledge. If you would like a pledge card digitally, send an email to:

Community is important to me. It’s through community that society strengthens, grows and thrives. Without strong communities, our society will spiral into chaos.

All of us belong to many communities. These communities form a tapestry of who we are and who we want to be. One of my communities is St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church.

I must admit that faith makes me a little uncomfortable. My rational, engineering mind wants equations, proofs and some sort of logic to the world. It’s a daily struggle to rationalize these thoughts and feelings. That’s why it’s important for me to seek out people who share in my struggle.

Showing Up Counts

My first interaction with St. Cyprian’s came about via a block party where Pastor Will and Pastor Susanna presided over a “blessing of the bikes.” In San Francisco, it’s rare for clergy to show up to a community event even though there is a church on every corner (well, at least it feels like that).

Will and Susanna showing up made a big impression on me and the community. So much of community work is showing up. By showing up, you show you care.

Showing up is what builds bonds between people that are so vital when conflicts or opportunities arise. Now, St. Cyprian’s members show up to almost all of NOPNA’s events. By showing up, they maintain and strengthen the ties to the neighborhood they have called home for over 50 years.

Faith, Action and Community

A groups manta should represent what it stands for, what it wants to achieve and how it operates. St. Cyprian’s mantra of Faith, Action and Community does just that.

By having a grounding in faith, St. Cyprian’s shows that it stands for Peace, Love and Justice.
By taking action, St. Cyprian’s demonstrates that being involved is how great things are achieved.

By building community, St. Cyprian’s becomes part of the community. All of these ideas resonate with me because doing is far better than talking, engagement trumps isolation and faith builds hope.

A Simple Yet Powerful Offer
The bike blessing was my first impression of St. Cyprian’s but my journey to the St. Cyprian’s started with a simple offer – if you ever need a priest, just give me a call. This simple offer of help, support, fellowship and friendship made a profound impact on my life.
Life is complex. You never know when events in your life will build up to a point where all seems lost, despair sets in and greater meaning is hard to find. Just such an event happened to me and my family.

Being There
Lung cancer is a horrible disease that has the stigma of being a smokers only cancer. That’s not the case at all. Over 15% of lung cancer patients are non-smokers and that number rises every year.

Lung cancer is hard to catch and even harder to treat. By the time you know you have it, it’s almost too late. That’s what happened to my mother-in-law, Margit.

Margit’s sudden diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer shocked our family. How can someone in good health all of a sudden get cancer? Worst than that, how come it went undetected? Why is this happening to us?

In times of great stress and uncertainty, seeking out comfort becomes a priority. We struggle to make sense of events that seem like someone else’s problem. That’s why it’s important to show up and be there for people before, during and after life changing events. Building those relationships enhances our lives and makes it much easier to connect and stay connected.
Margit surcummed to cancer 9 months after her diagnosis. The months that followed were a time of great sorrow, reflection and anger. St. Cyprian’s was there to ease our grief, offer comfort and help us remember the joy of Margit’s life.

Who Do You Show Up For?
We all live busy lives. From kids, work, social commitments to digital distractions, it seems that life just keeps on accelerating. Even though we are becoming more “connected”, we seem to lose connection.

Real connections with our friends, our community and our families seems less and less even as the digital divide shortens. That’s why it’s more important than ever to show up and be there for people. That’s why I show up for St. Cyprian’s and our community.

So, give it a try. Show up. Be present in your community. Share in the joys, struggles, sadness and debate that our lives throw at us. Rejoice in the fact that people care, want to get to know you and will be there when needed. It does not matter if you are an Atheist, Christian, Muslim, Buddist, Jewish or Hindu, all are welcome at the table of fellowship to build a community that thrives.

We Can’t Do it Without You
We would appreciate your support in our objectives to strive for Peace, Love and Justice, be there for those in need and strengthen our community bonds. We have already done a tremendous amount (a short list is presented below) and have plans to do more :

• Attracted the Noe Valley Music Series
• Supported the Village Project two years in a row
• Green-scaped the corner of Turk and Lyon
• Provided support for those that mourned loss in our community
• Hosted several community meetings and events
• Fixed our Tower, which will strengthen our foundation at Turk and Lyon.

St. Cyprian’s is rooted in faith but built on community. We don’t want to provide for the community – we want to partner with it. If you share our vision of a better world, one community at a time, then help us by sharing your talents, your time or your treasure. Every little bit helps and every little bit makes us all stronger. Or better yet, show up. We would love to see you.

About the Author:
Jarie has lived in NOPNA with his Wife Margaret and dog Harold for over 6 years. He is the President of NOPNA and the Jr. Warden at St. Cyprian's. When not volunteering, he works on DNA sequencing machines in the Biotech Industry.

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