My name is Jacqueline Skinner, and I am happy to call St. Margaret’s home. I first started going to St. Margaret’s as a small child, around 5 or 6 years old. I remember the way my feet swung in the pews, gazing up at the enormity of the ceiling, my restless energy diverted by doodling on the offering envelopes, and any shenanigans cut short by a well timed glare from my father. We (the Ornelas family) went intermittently to St. Margaret’s, our attendance interrupted by baseball tournaments or swim meets. Being baptized in the church (at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Fullerton, CA), I took the logical step in the throes of puberty and was confirmed at St. Margaret’s. In the years that followed, our attendance at St. Margaret’s waned to a trickle; I suppose that life got in the way.
I have a curious nature, and I sated my spiritual curiosity by attending churches that ran a colorful spectrum. I was separated by gender in the Church of Latter Day Saints, mumbled my way through stations of the Cross and Hail Marys in Catholic Mass, watched wide eyed in wonder while parishioners spoke in tongues and fainted at Foursquare, and attended youth group in a non-denominational church, complete with a band playing pop Christian songs. I always compared these experiences to St. Margaret’s; not because it was a fundamental part of my childhood, but because the worship at St. Margaret’s just felt right to me. I always felt like an impostor, looking around at other Christians to make sure I was praying “right”. They always looked so comfortable, in their element, while I internally squirmed, feeling alien and out of place.
In my mid to late twenties I felt a pull, a stirring in my soul, to return to St. Margaret’s. At the time I knew no one; the clergy was different, and there were a few changes to the grounds. However, I was happy to be “home” again. I was initially erratic in attendance, but whenever I was there, I knew I was exactly where I should be. I met my husband shortly afterwards, and we’ve been pretty regular in attending church. I’ve always held the belief that as spouses deepen their own relationship with God, they are drawn closer to each other as a result. In my limited experience, this has been true. Our shared faith was something we bonded over in our early days, and we continue to discuss God, in our trials and our triumphs in faith.
When our daughter was born last spring, I was so grateful that I had returned to St. Margaret’s. As she entered this world, I ran a fever, and as a result, passed on a mild infection. About an hour after she was born, the hospital staff whisked her off to NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). It is quite a shock, to see your baby lined up in an aisle with a dozen other babies, to hear multitudes of monitors beeping and alarms shrieking, to see IV tubes sticking out of her fragile, perfect, brand new skin. Our daughter, Kiera, weighed two ounces shy of ten pounds, and as a result of being so robust, broke her collarbone in the birthing canal. I was frustrated that I couldn’t immediately take my daughter home, scared that her situation could be worse, and fretful, as every new mother would be. Although, despite all of my worry, I felt something entirely different that long first week. I was overwhelmed with the spirit of gratitude. Father Lane came to pray with us, and I leaned upon God to give me comfort and grace.
St. Margaret’s exists to help those in need. The need might be immediate, like a sick family member, or an empty, hungry stomach. The need may be joyous, as in welcoming young and old into the church, and inviting the Holy Spirit into their lives. The need can be as simple, and as complicated, as welcoming all with open arms, withholding judgment and loving our neighbors as we do ourselves. We are called to be more at St. Margaret’s, and I am grateful to be a part of the flock.