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Nov 08, 2013 | The Rev. Ed Wollery-Price

Surprised by the Holy Spirit

[Diolog Magazine] When I retired I was selfassured because of the vocational journey I’d been on for 37 years. The vocational journey became a reality when, with a diploma from UT (Austin only in those days) in the mail, Patti and I were married in August 1963, and two days later I was commissioned an officer is the US Army. Then after six years in uniform, we returned to San Antonio as civilians, and three years later I began to practice law. We lived in San Antonio for another four years as I did my internship with a small law firm. Then we moved to Columbus, TX to raise two sons in a small town-, country- lifestyle. I also opened my own law office in Columbus, and four years later was elected county attorney. In 1989 we moved to Austin, where I was a hearings attorney in the state comptroller's office. I retired in 1999. 


During those years the church became an increasingly meaningful part of my life and my marriage. We raised two blue ribbon sons, who gave us a run for our money in dealing with their maturity. We increasingly turned to the Episcopal church family at St. Johns in Columbus then at All Saints' in Austin for pastoral support especially from the priests at those parishes. In retirement, and having been a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer and a trained Steven Minister, I found that I was becoming increasingly judgmental, not about the structure of those ministries, but by my inability to make things right for those with whom I was associated as a care giver. 


I guess you could say, I had not learned to let go and let God. I was in spiritual trouble. I projected my inability to make things right and this caused me to want to withdraw from ministry, in the community and at All Saints'. I was on the down ward slop of self-righteousness trouble.


In 2004, I began a journey that led me to a spiritual awakening that doused holy water on my burning self-righteousness. I landed with one foot in the world and the other in the Church as an ordained deacon. 


I had been praying to Jesus for help, and during the November 21, 2004, service on Christ the King Sunday, I found that help in the Gospel reading from Luke. I knew that I was like the thief that was bad-mouthing Jesus. After the service and in tears, I shared my feelings of unworthiness with my wife. Two days later, with her at my side, I visited with our rector, the Rev. Mike Adams. Several months later, with the love and support of my All Saints’ parish family and my wife, I was accepted as a postulant for the diaconate by the Diocese of Texas at the diocese's IONA school for ministry. 


During my diaconal training, I was doing fieldwork at Austin Recovery (AR), when I experienced a manifestation of the Holy Trinity that was, for me, a spiritual awakening. 


One beautiful, still December morning, at ARs men's facility near Credmoore, under a leafless tree, I was listening to a man’s Fifth Step of the 12-Step Program. He had been reading for two hours from his lists of wrongs, fears and sexual problems, when he suddenly stopped. He was through and had shown no remorse the entire two hours. Then he said, “I wish all that stuff would go away.” I did not know what to say. Then suddenly a strong wind arose, and the branches we were under moved with the energy of that wind. The papers from which he had been reading suddenly blew away in a tornado-like funnel. Unbelievable! I asked if I could pick up all those papers and throw them into a garbage can and he said, “Yes, please do.” When I returned, his eyes were full of tears. At that moment I realized, by faith, that I had experienced the Holy Trinity. God was present, the wind was the Holy Spirit and Jesus was sitting across from me. A mystery and the truth. 


I reflect everyday upon that moment at AR. There is no limit to God’s grace. My retirement years are now a joy, and each day I go forth into the world grateful to be a deacon and rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. 


Woolery-Price is a deacon at All Saints, Austin