Grandma Simpson & Atticus, June 2008
My grandma, Ethel Mae Simpson, was quite an extraordinary woman. Born in 1923 and raised in a rather poor environment, she always lived a rather simple life. But her life was extraordinary in that she lived a life of faith and prayer. She was a lifelong member of Mount Olivet United Methodist Church.
She married the love of her life in 1940 and went on to have three children. She remained faithful to Grandpa even after he died. I really admire that. She knew that no one could replace him. She always talked about him like he had just left on a trip. You wouldn’t know that he had been dead for years.
Grandma is largely responsible for my faith. Like I said earlier, she was a lifelong United Methodist. She was the type that couldn’t be stopped if she had her mind made up. When I came along (I was born in 1973), Grandma made up her mind that I was going to go to church with her and she wasn’t taking no for an answer. She made sure that every Sunday I went to church. I believed in God and was even baptized Methodist on December 23, 1984. I was eleven.
I thought I had everything figured out until my sweet, precious grandpa died in 1991. My whole world crashed. I just couldn’t understand why Grandpa would leave me like that. I became quite angry with God. I turned against everybody and everything. For about six years, I was anti–everything.
In about 1997, I started exploring Wicca. It’s a nature–based religion with a “Sun–god” and a “Moon–goddess” and a motto of, “an it harm none, do what thou wilt.” It seemed so peaceful and natural. I prayed to Woden and Freya and became rather spiritual. All creation is special. Like all religions, there is some truth in this one, but not all of the truth. Frankly, I didn’t think any religion had all of the truth.
By 2005, when I married the woman of my dreams, I believed in God, but couldn’t describe it much more than that. Jo and I got married on July 27, 2005, in New York City. What an awesome day. I married the most beautiful woman ever.
We went back to NYC in 2006 for our anniversary. On our one–year anniversary, we left the busy streets and walked into St. Bartholomew’s. Jo was pregnant and needed a break from walking in the 100-degree weather. I thought it would be cool to see a pretty church. I wasn’t really looking for anything or expecting anything.
When my Queen and I walked into St. Bart’s and the door shut behind us, something came over me. The peace beyond all understanding came down on me. I immediately knew that God had reached down his mighty hand and grabbed hold of me. My whole life was changed right then.
Jo bought me a beautiful silver Celtic cross necklace in the St. Bart’s gift shop to remind me of this awesome moment. I felt on fire for God. I wore this cross always.
We had Atticus September 25, 2006. On October 26, 2006, I was ordained as a minister by St. Luke’s Evangelical Christian Ministries. St. Bart’s is an Episcopal church, but I became an Evangelical minister. I preached one sermon. It was on forgiveness. My grandma came to the church that I preached at just to hear me. It was at Victory Family Church in Danville, Va.
In 2008, we went back to St. Bart’s, and I bought a rosary. I didn’t know what a rosary was; I just knew that I had to have one. After we got home, I fell to my knees and prayed to have the dedication of a monk as much as I can, considering I’m a married man. I then felt led to pray the Lord’s Prayer 150 times every day. I used my new rosary to count the prayers.
At work, I asked some of the officers if they ever prayed the Lord’s Prayer. Most of them said no. I found it interesting that people seemed to think it was better to pray a prayer they made up instead of the prayer Jesus told them to pray. Hmmm. I knew the Lord’s Prayer very well because we prayed it every week at Mount Olivet, where I grew up.
One of the officers at work referred to the Lord’s Prayer as the model prayer. I had never heard it called that. So, it was time to dig into the Internet.
I found that someone did call it the model prayer in the nineteenth century, but it was more commonly called the Lord’s Prayer (at least by Protestants). Prior to the Protestant Reformation, it was called the Pater Noster (Our Father in Latin). The earliest record I could find of that was 350 A.D. The monks in 350 A.D. prayed the 150 Psalms a day, but some monks couldn’t read. The illiterate monks prayed 150 Pater Nosters a day.
Wait a minute!! That’s what I was led to do. I was led to pray 150 Our Fathers (Pater Nosters) per day just like the monks did in 350. God had answered my prayer of making me dedicated like the monks by starting with making me pray like them. Wow! God had “spoken” to me again.
My logic started to lean toward checking out the Catholic Church. After all, monks are Catholic. We almost immediately went to Sacred Heart Catholic Church to check it out.
I also did a lot of searching on the Internet trying to disprove the Church, but found that it can’t be done. Jo and I went on to be confirmed Catholic in 2010.
This meant that my ordination was not valid and, for some time, I didn’t wear my special Celtic cross because it’s what I wore when I was Rev. Kevin R. Hawke. I was trying to separate myself from my Protestant roots, but in reality, I didn’t need to.
I love the Catholic Church and know that it is the absolute truth, but I might not have ever found it without the dedication of my beautiful grandmother and her United Methodist beliefs. Or what about the fact that the peace of Jesus came over me in an Episcopal church? God can use these churches to lead you to the true Church, the Catholic Church.
A few days ago, January 15, 2012, was my grandma’s birthday. It was the first one since she died. On that day, I put my special Celtic cross back on. Although my grandma and her Methodist church didn’t have all of the truth, I might not have ever found it without her. Thank God for grandma.
Kevin R. Hawke
(John of the Cross)
January 18, 2012