By Harrison Schramm

When you ask a St. Mary’s parishioner about the campus, you will get a variety of answers, typically revolving around how old the buildings are (old), a laundry list of the things that they were used for pre- COVID-19, or a good natured community ‘honey-do’ list of upkeep issues minor and major.  These include new paint, new roof, refrigerators acting up in Edwards Hall, or the ‘personality’ of the office equipment.  While we tend to think of our campus based on what it is, we do not so readily think of our campus in terms of where it is.

If you consult a map, you will see that St. Mary’s occupies the block bounded by Central Ave, Doc Ricketts Row, 12th Street, and 13th street.  Of these four boundaries, one deserves special attention: 13th street.  According to city planners, a single lane road should be 11 feet; I have not measured the street myself and probably never will.  For the past few years I have lost interest in the physical dimension because it a spiritually immeasurable chasm; with a playground on one side, and a memorial garden on the other. I have often contemplated what this says about us and our community.

Over the past few weeks, I have gotten a better sense for the width of 13th street.  In short, it is as wide as it needs be. It is precisely wide enough for a semi-truck full of food donations to park at St. Mary’s and a pickup loaded to take food to one of our partner organizations for further distribution with the thickness of two angel’s wings to spare.  It is wide enough for volunteers from the youth to arrive on a Tuesday and unpack and sort this food.  Magically, it is always wide enough for Eugene Loh’s bicycle.

It is as wide as it needs be.

Width tested; chasms still exist.  The souls in our memorial garden are getting more of a show then they have had in quite a while, with hand trucks going up-and-down, down-and-up the stairs to the back entrance of Edwards Hall.

This hall has been the scene of my fondest memories of St. Mary’s Thanksgiving celebrations.  At the most recent one, Kyle and I lamented the lost opportunity of preaching our very own competing ‘fire and brimstone’ sermon from the 13th street side of campus as we lowered the turkey into the bubbling oil of the fryer on the courtyard.  As soon as church let out, the feasting began, with an abundance of food and (since we are Episcopalians) wine.

Thanksgiving has unexpectedly returned to Edwards Hall; off cycle and truer than ever.  The Hall currently looks (and to be fair, smells) more like the back room of a community grocery store than what people expect from a parish hall.

In all of this, a different map is being drawn – one based not on streets and alleyways but of the food network for the needy of the greater community during this time.  St. Mary’s is very central in this map, with food flowing both in and out of campus.

If you would like to help contribute to this flow, please contact CSC