Toledoan finds her path through belief in GodWritten by Julie Rubini | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Lowrey is Toledo’s version of Barbara Walters. After sharing her journey and path, she turns the tables, looks at one directly with her big understanding eyes and the next thing you know, you’re sharing your life story and tears are falling. And all the while, she just listens.
The 60-year-old moved to the area in 2000 after her husband took a position with a firm in Monroe. As she was entrenched in her life and connections in the Dayton area, the move was a leap of faith, and one that didn’t necessarily come easy to her.
Driving up Interstate-75, a caravan of Lowrey family members following in a terrible snowstorm, the move began rather auspiciously. Recalling her uncertainty of this major transition after having raised her two children in the Kettering community, she shared the answer to her anxiety came from a family member who accompanied them. She lay across the front seat, comfortable and at peace.
As they drove nearer to their new home, she perked up as if to suggest that this could be a fun new experience. Lowrey’s dog provided the answer she was looking for.
“So I thought to myself, OK, so you’ve taught me. I want to be at peace and curious,” Lowrey said.
Lowrey has an amazing ability to listen to those around her, as well as find her path through the messages that her faith and belief in God have offered to her along the way.
After raising her children, as well as serving as a foster parent to 17 young babies when her children were young, she heard the call to serve while visiting an Episcopalian camp that her daughter was on the staff of in North Carolina. Through a spiritual walk where she encountered a special path called, ironically, “Lowrey’s Crossing,” and heard the simple answer to her question regarding her life’s path. The word was “yes.”
“If I say ‘yes’ to God, then it doesn’t matter what the question is,” Lowrey said.
Soon thereafter a brochure arrived in the mail from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, where she began her studies before transferring to University of Dayton School of Religious Studies and obtained her Masters of Pastoral Ministries, and ultimately obtained a Doctor of Ministry in Applied Ministries from the Graduate Theological Foundation.
“I discovered that I didn’t have answers for people, I just have heart,” she offered.
And she has given all her heart and her open spirit to the community ever since. As the associate for Community Life at Trinity Church in Downtown Toledo, in her part-time position she “keeps my receptors open and work with ministry partners. It’s not based on a corporate model. Invitation and opportunity come if I’m open, and particularly if I’m not fixed on my own idea of what to do next.
Many miracles have come to Trinity with their faith in letting me be the one to notice.”
This openness led to the evolution of “My Brother’s Place,” a restaurant at the church that has been renovated by community and church volunteers, individuals at shelters, and in work-release programs. Begun as a volunteer enterprise, and then a commercial venture, the restaurant offers lunch for purchase, as well as a ministry component and job opportunities for individuals trying to make a new start in their lives.
Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, Lowrey shared that the priest at Trinity approached her as to how she would want to handle the sharing of the news with staff and parish. Offering that nothing was secret about her diagnosis, she allowed herself to be blessed with a laying of the hands during a service.
Two parishioners wove a healing blanket for her for the ceremony. Lowrey, comforted by their gesture, thought it would be a great idea to provide fleece blankets to those in need in the community.
Thus a blanket ministry was begun, which quickly grew from 100 blankets being made and provided, to this year, 400 blankets created not by just church members, but by members of AmeriCorps, Scout troops and corporate employees.
Once again, Lowrey proved her openness to share allows the comfort that she received to benefit others. The blankets are distributed to St. Paul’s Community Center, Beach House, Mom’s House, battered women’s shelters, homeless veterans, Harbor House and Tent City.
Living a full life, and continually pushing “life’s margins,” she also offers individual spiritual direction. Serving for six years on the board of NW Ohio HEALS (Help and Encouragement After Loss), and although she laughs and suggests that she’s not sure why she has sat among those who work at Hospice and Victory Center, as well as nurses, funeral directors and the like, one senses that she was where she needed to be when called upon.
Lowrey views the breast cancer as a visitor that came to her door and paid her a visit, and then left.
She recently learned that the visitor has returned, and just as she did the first time this dark stranger paid a call, she will listen to what she needs to learn from the challenges of fighting this disease.
Don’t be in the least bit surprised if we all benefit from her listening.
Julie K. Rubini is founder of Claire’s Day Inc., the author of the recently published children’s book, “Hidden Ohio.”
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