We got to know the Rev. Paul Walker and his daughter, Heather, here at St. Andrew's in Chariton some years ago after the tragic death of our vicar and friend, the Rev. Sue Palmer.
At the time, our current vicar --- the Rev. Fred Steinbach --- had been ordained a deacon but not yet a priest. As a result, Paul --- a retired Episcopal priest --- agreed to drive up from his home in Burlington periodically on Sundays to help us out.
Heather always came along, grumbling a little sometimes --- it was necessary to rise very early in Burlington in order to arrive in Chariton by 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday. She enjoyed serving during the Eucharist and we enjoyed having her with us.
Paul and his husband, the Rev. Randy Lee Webster --- also an Episcopal priest and now minister of faith and worship at First Presbyterian in Burlington --- had moved earlier from New Jersey to Burlington, Randy's home town, to be near his aging parents.
Naturally, Heather moved with them and flourished --- enjoying Special Olympics and other opportunities down there along the Mississippi for those who are differently abled.
Randy's dad died last year and earlier this year, while Paul was recovering from knee-replacement surgery, Heather was diagnosed with rectal/colon cancer.
It's a tough diagnosis for anyone and, for Heather, extremely complicated. She is unable, for example, to remain still without anesthesia long enough for the necessary sessions of radiation therapy.
The initial stage of her treatment is now under way in Rochester, New York, where Heather's mother lives near a hospital that offers sophisticated care for those fighting cancer. The long-term outlook is not especially promising. And Paul is traveling back and forth between Iowa and New York now that he is able to travel again.
All involved would appreciate being held in the light through prayer and supportive thoughts and I'm sure that there are others who would like to join me in doing the best we can to do just that.
And while we're about it, it wouldn't hurt to count our own blessings.