This is home to me.
Whether it be a hurried Sunday morning, rushing up the brick path and through the vivid red door for the 10:15 service, with my three children in tow..
Or a Wednesday morning at 9:30, basking in the post-hurried-school-drop-off calm as I make my way across the brick path to head in through the office door entrance and into St.Matthew’s parlor for the bible study led by lovely Carol Kingston..
Or 11:00 pm on a Saturday evening, sitting cross-legged on that same brick path, cloaked from the chill of the night’s air, gazing up at the familiar and comforting stained glass adorning the entrance and the cross above- a steady beacon in the dark sky…and hoping that police don’t see me and set their lights flashing, assuming I’m up to no good.
It was about July of 2010 when I first found Ascension. My then-husband, Rob, and I needed a place to baptize our daughter, Anna-Sofia. I didn’t grow up religious, but apparently this is what religious people do. Rob grew up Catholic and our two sons were baptized in the same Catholic church that he was baptized in. I have been in that church exactly two times. Rob thought maybe we should baptize our final child in a church where we could attend service and not feel the fires of damnation that he had earned from his previous divorce(s) and remarriage to me. So began my relationship with Ascension.
Rob and I actually moved to Ipswich with our son, Nickolas, in July of 2004. Nickolas was 14 months old and I became pregnant with our son, Jacob, later that year. We had been living in Ipswich for 6 years and Nickolas had already attended 2 years at Winthrop School in Ipswich before we entered the Ascension community. Despite our years in this town, I hadn’t felt like an Ipswich resident and had no feeling of belonging or community. A big reason for this was that Rob and I worked in Salem, our previous hometown and Nickolas’ birthplace, and we spent all of our free time there. I gave birth to Anna-Sofia in 2009, and since we now had three children together, it would cost more for childcare than I could earn working, so I became a stay-at-home mom for the first time ever. Other stay-at-home parents can attest to how lonely and isolating stay-at-home parent life can become- especially if you feel like a stranger in your own town.
At Ascension, I felt welcomed right away. I specifically remember both Betty Dorman and Kitty Bartholomew being particularly welcoming. I faced the incredible loss of my father (at his young age of 62) during my first year here, so the timing couldn’t have been more right to find a place where I wasn’t alone. I was still nursing Anna-Sofia then and my sons were aged 5 and 7. Though I attended services as often as I could, Rob almost never attended with us. I am a divorced, single mom now, but even then I felt like a single mom and greatly benefited from the relationships and community here at Ascension. I will say that Brad found reason to begin
offering childcare services, I’m sure, due largely in part to my rambunctious little girl in tow with me at the back of the church.
I have been with Ascension for over 9 years now. I have attended services and annual events and have been a routine member of the bible study group. I have served as a volunteer caregiver in the Ascension nursery and contributed with youth ministry, under the direction of the amazing Vicki Hughes. My children attend the youth program and my boys have been lucky to sing with Frank Corbin and the youth choristers. My son, Nickolas, learned a lot on the mission trip to Navajoland with Ascension. I am thankful for the loving relationships that I have developed with so many parishioners here. I am thankful for Brad’s counsel as I’ve navigated much heartache and loss. I am painfully shy and awkward and I am thankful that the people here accept me and care for me even though I often come across as a “wackadoo weirdo”.
Here at Ascension, it is comforting for me to be in such a beautiful place with incredible music and friendly faces. The space here is intimate and inviting. At first I thought it was maybe just the architecture and decoration- the shape and color of it all. But it’s so much more than that. Ascension radiates light. Not the blinding kind of light that makes you blink and turn away. Ascension radiates the soft and warm kind of light that you open your eyes to and turn towards because it’s gentle and safe. Ascension’s light soothes and sustains you. I’m often overcome with emotion when I am within these walls because I feel that light washing over me when I enter. After days of feeling so cold and alone in a harsh world, I come here and I feel bathed in love. I feel like I am finally home.