by Wendy Edwards
An ongoing series spotlighting the amazing individuals who make up the “we” in We Are All Saints.
Susan Adkins says she feels God’s presence in “Grace Moment” surprises, and most surely through connection with others. Sometimes its appearance makes her laugh. For instance, one Sunday morning when she was quite new to All Saints, she was sitting before worship began in what was becoming her usual pew: Pew four pulpit side. A man near her stood up to go out, so Susan shifted sideways to make room. En route to the aisle he tripped over a kneeler and went sprawling, kicking Susan’s leg and sending her sandal flying into the center aisle. All of this coincided with the procession!
The man reached into the aisle and grabbed Susan’s shoe just before the crucifer got there. Awkwardly extricating himself from her lap, the man apologized and asked if she was all right. She responded, “I may never walk again, but other than that, I’m fine.” To her relief, he laughed! That man, Roman Borek, became her dear friend, and they have been 9 a.m. pew buddies ever since.
Before finding All Saints, Susan attended United Methodist churches, starting during her childhood in Pittsburgh. After college in Ohio, she married and moved with her husband to Ann Arbor, Columbus, Santa Barbara, Houston and then Ventura. They had three boys in three years, and since she’d been an only child, she looks back on raising her own family as “hilarious and loud!” Those boys, now in their 40s, live with their respective families along the west coast from Seattle to San Diego.
After those three sons were launched, Susan’s marriage ended, but with continuing friendship. Not feeling tied to Ventura, she liked the idea of a new city for this new chapter in life. After visiting Huntington Gardens, discovering several good restaurants, and hearing a lecture at the Norton Simon she narrowed her search to Pasadena. She purchased a condo in Old Town that suited her and her dog to a tee. One Sunday morning, while walking the dog around City Hall, Susan came upon a church where a lot was happening on the front lawn. The choir and acolytes were lined up and there was a brief prayer before they went inside. It was a beautiful moment, and Susan longed for a faith community. When she discovered it was an Episcopal church, her curiosity dimmed a little. She’d been to liturgical services and always felt like she was standing up or sitting down at the wrong time. Imagine her delight when she braved a visit to All Saints and found a printed liturgy with clear directions! That and the beauty of the Gothic architecture brought her back.
In addition to the Labyrinth Ministry, Susan volunteers with the Food Ministry. Recently, she found herself sharing a good laugh with one of our Monday morning guests as they practiced saying “thank you” in different languages. “There were no barriers between us. We were both clumsy!” Susan appreciates Richard Rohr’s teaching about non-dualistic thinking that resists labeling or categorizing anything too quickly. “Once you get ‘God dwells in you’ into your head, you look for God’s spirit in other people, and it’s there!”
One last thing about Susan: She has a particular interest in Early British Christianity and has enjoyed coursework toward an MA through the University of Wales. “When my father was dying, a cousin talked a lot about our Welsh grandmother whom I was named after but never knew. I became curious about the very early Welsh Christians; their reverence for nature and non-dualistic sense of the sacred and secular. Women often had more spiritual leadership equality with men than evident in Rome. Incorporating Early British Christian tradition with the faith of my childhood has been immensely enriching, and I am so grateful to be rooted in a church like All Saints where each person’s faith journey is received and encouraged.”