Backgammon: The Road to the CEC

A couple years ago I was unemployed, recovering from surgery and overall pretty down about things. My sister had just gotten married, a ground that proved too fertile for my divorced parents to leave alone and they successfully threw daggers at one another putting a damper on what should have been a very happy occasion. That situation led the way for some really tense interactions between me, my mom and my sister. I was wallowing in self-pity, depression and self-loathing.

Many people in that situation turn to alcohol, or drugs (I might have if I wasn’t allergic to them all!) but I instead passed away the hours each day playing internet backgammon. Weird, I know, but that’s what I did. The game I was playing allowed for internet chat during play, and I embraced it. It was somewhat intelligent conversation…usually. My screen name referred to my hobby, dog training. It was a great ice breaker.

During one afternoon of play, I was randomly matched with a player who, when I asked for his name, replied with simply “David”. Aside from our common like of backgammon, David and I shared the common ground of owning multiple dogs. That was how we met. I learned that he lived in Florida; he learned I live in New England. As the game progressed, I asked David about himself, more specifically what he did for a living. Something else we had in common: we were both unemployed. I however was surprised to learn that David was a priest. I remember saying to him “I didn’t think priests could be unemployed!” He told me a little about his church and its association with CEC, and organization I had never heard of. He explained that it was not associated with ECUSA, but that didn’t mean a whole lot to me since I wasn’t familiar with that one either.

Our game was interrupted when my phone rang; mom “digging” for information about my sister. Darn, caught in the middle yet again! When I returned to the game, my tone was apparently different, and I expressed to my new acquaintance my disdain at this old familiar triangulation. I felt trapped between my loyalty to my sister and my obligation to my mother. He offered to me that he could help me with that. He piqued my interest. How could some one who didn’t know me, AND several hundred miles away help me with my little ‘problem’? He said one word to me that changed my life: forgiveness. He went on to TEACH me how to forgive my sister and my mother, explaining to me that forgiveness wouldn’t let the other person off the hook, but rather free me from the burden that I was carrying. Not too long after that, we exchanged phone numbers since our conversation was becoming difficult in a chat window.

I spoke with Fr. David a few times before he led me in a prayer of salvation and into a new life in Christ. He urged me to find a church to become a part of. He offered me resources to find a CEC church near me. It turned out the nearest one is 40 min away. I wasn’t too interested in that kind of travel but maybe the Episcopal Church down the street would serve as a good starting point. Fr. David urged me again to reach out to the CEC church, just to give it a try. He suggested I give the church a call, and speak to the priest to at least become familiar with a voice before making the trip. I took his advice and called.

That could be the end of the story but it’s really not. The number Fr. David provided me with supposedly for the local church was disconnected. I was mortified. Here I was, ‘naked’ and newly born again, raw to the core with every conceivable emotion floating just beneath the surface of my new tender skin, and no where to go. In a panic, I called Fr. David and let him know. He reassured me, he would call his cathedral and get a number for the cathedral in the North East and find out what the scoop was with my local CEC church. Fast forward a few days: my cell phone rings, and the voice on the other end says “Hi, my name is Fr. Dave Klampert from St. Michael’s CEC…” The rest, as they say, is history!

Lori Reynolds- St. Michael’s Church RI

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