*Reader’s Note: Below are the remarks delivered in presenting the Manitou Springs “Manni Award for Health & Wellbeing” to Pastor Susie Merrin of the St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Technically, this was an award given for 2019, but I’ve chosen to title it in the year it was given (2020).

*“The people who live in darkness have seen a great light.”

  • So began Pastor Susie Merrin’s sermon this past Sunday
  • Sorry Susie, that’s all I got, sitting with the pack of wild baboons also known as my daughters. They’ve actually spit out Communion bread. I understand our Superintendent of schools is here tonight – good luck with my girls
  • She’s earned this Manni just for what she’s put up with from our family, as well as her near decade in service as the pastor at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

*But I want to tell you a story to give you a glimpse into her work – how she meets her church’s mission statement to “feed people all ways”

  • Two years ago I was out back, just over the creek, on Lovers Lane, hands on knees sobbing
  • The reason was my then-6 year old had a seizure the night before
  • I had been in Korea the year before, so I had missed many of these seizure experiences and didn’t know what to do
  • If you ever want to know helplessness, watch a loved one’s body shut down and have absolutely no ability to stop it. It was like watching her drown
  • We got through the night, but the next day was that morning run where I felt ashamed and a failure as a father, right out there

*A few days later, I was back on my knees – though this time, at the front of St. Andrew’s, holding my daughter’s hand, both of us kneeling for communion

  • As she always does, Pastor Susie asked her, “Would you like a blessing?”
  • It’s the simplest thing – gentle touch to the forehead and some kind words
  • In that moment, I felt better. A lot better. Relieved. At peace, even

*Whether you go to church or not, we all know suffering is universal. We all feel pain.

  • And some pain can’t be bound up or bandaged over. It’s deeper
  • At some point, we all hunger in different ways, so it matters that Manitou Springs has someone like Pastor Susie, a special kind of doctor whose door is always open
  • Because those of us who have lived in that darkness have seen a great light: it’s her.
  • -That’s why I’m particularly honored tonight to present Pastor Susie Merrin with this year’s Manni Award for Health & Wellbeing.


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