Dear Friends in Christ,
July 20th. Some dates hold a deep significance for each of us. In our family one of those dates is July 20th. On that day the Apollo 11 module landed on the moon in 1969. For those of us old enough to remember, we know exactly where we were when the event took place. We were on vacation in Cap a L’Aigle, Quebec. We watched on a little black and white television set that had rabbit ears. Neil Armstrong would take one small step, one giant leap for humankind.
On July 20, 1922, my wife Mary’s Uncle Herb was born. We marked his birthday with 99 sequentially numbered cupcakes, one through 99, half chocolate and half vanilla. The next day he took one small step, one giant leap into his one hundredth year.
On July 20, 1957, my parents Walter and Mavis were married. And on Thursday we were able to join them for the first time in their apartment in the seniors’ residence to mark the occasion. With the assurance that comes with double vaccination and careful observance of covid protocols, we took the tentative and joyful step of being together. We raised a glass of scotch to pay tribute and express our gratitude for arriving safely in this moment in time. Who knows how long it will take for things to return to normal? Who knows whether a fourth wave might be on the horizon? Who knows how long we will have to endure the precarious ways of living in pandemic? It has been such a difficult time for everyone, and we know instinctively that it’s not over.
Yet just being in each other’s presence for a few hours last night was like the tonic that has been missing. Telling stories, laughing with delight, just being together in such a simple way was like gaining something that had been lost. It was like touching down on the earth after being away for so long. It was like taking one small step, one giant leap for humankind.
As the doors of our churches swing open to welcome in-person worship, we gather with the assurance that comes with double vaccination and the careful observance of covid protocols to take one small step, one giant leap in hope. I pray that our return is safe and full of promise. Mary and I will be attending worship together at St. James Cathedral this Sunday morning.
In the meantime, I will be heading away on vacation until the end of August. Vacations are important. They provide the time to rest, to refresh, to gain perspective, to touch the earth and to remember what’s important. This is particularly true in light of the last 17 months. While I am away, Bishop Riscylla will serve as commissary for one week and Bishop Peter Fenty will do the same for three weeks. It’s a delight to welcome Bishop Peter back.
I am so grateful for the leadership of our bishops, priests and deacons who serve so faithfully. I am thankful for the creative, lifegiving ministries of our lay members who live out their baptismal vows in parishes large and small across the Diocese. And I am indebted to the staff of 135 Adelaide and the area offices for providing such amazing guidance and direction over these long months of pandemic. I am grateful to God for bringing us safely to this moment in time.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto