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Letters Home from the Front Lines of a Ministry: Part 3

Dear Friends,

A number of times I have laid hands on someone [the Laying on of Hands for Healing and Anointing with Oil is a rite performed upon those "who are hurting in body mind or spirit and desire intercessory prayer" -- eds.] and prayed that they feel themselves held in the arms of God as a mother holds her baby, or that they know Jesus' healing presence as the people he actually touched did, and bless them in the name of the spirit of forgiveness, compassion, healing or strength. This is happening here. And, of course, this awareness of the Divine is coming through people, most of whom will never be there in body, but are present in spirit, through banners, and letters from children, and donations, but mostly through their prayers and thoughts of good will and compassion. St. Paul's is an old, beautiful church, and in one sense this ministry is hard on the building. And yet as the wrinkles on our faces tell the stories

of our lives, the marks left on the building will tell the story of this good work.

There will be marks where children's letters to rescue workers have been taped, and long after this rescue effort is over these tape marks will bear witness, not to human's capacity to do evil, but to the capacity of the human heart to suffer, grieve, comfort and connect. Every time I get off the subway at Broadway and Fulton, I am greeted by that awful odor -- acrid, burning. The smell brings me up short. It is not any of the familiar odors of the subway. It is a new one. But it is five weeks old. I give thanks everyday for all of you. I close with the greeting used at St. Mark's Church in the Bowery during the Peace: Peace, Power and Love,


The Rev. Gwyneth MacKenzie Murphy, along with scores of other volunteers, has been serving rescue workers at ground zero at St. Paul's Chapel, across the street from the World Trade Center site. A native New Yorker, she is a priest in the Diocese of Utah. Before moving to Salt Lake, she served at St. John's in Oakland and Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

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