All the things seemed to happen this week, from really stellar numbers at work to a discernment committee a ha moment, to our VBS Extravaganza today; and all of the things in between.
The moments are like water pouring from the tap and through my hands, lifted from the lake and cooling my palms. Sometimes, when you grab a handful of sand from the bottom of the lake, not all of it is lost, and you end up with a sharp shell or a shiny pebble.
I have a few of these.
Today was our first Gospel Music Sunday. This means that we didn’t sing the songs in our own hymnal, but we took songs from the background and history of so many of us and we used them instead. I sang come home, come home, ye who are weary, come home… next to a woman who is such a friend to me, hearing her alto blend with me and seeing the face of a woman in front of us who had closed her eyes and had tears dripping down her cheeks.
We sang, I need thee, oh I need thee, every hour I need thee. And I haven’t sung that song in probably close to 20 years, and a sharp shell of a memory poked my palm as we launched into the chorus, and I could hear my friend Becky as she played the violin along with us. And I could hear my grandma and my mama singing along too, plaintatively, pleadingly, in the midst of their own lives and their own marriages and their own frustrations with wiggly children in church. And then my chin trembled a little and I couldn’t see the words on the page anymore for the tears as I realized that nothing I am experiencing, not one part of it, is new.
For years and years, back through the history of time women have pled for the same mercy, begged for the presence of the same God, for peace.
Today we fed close to 100 people for our parish picnic and VBS extravaganza, and we all had dinner with our soup kitchen guests, who looked a little confused as they entered the Parish Hall, a place they have come to think of as theirs, and found a table of jewelry for sale to benefit Uganda, and a bake sale hosted by our seniors, and a beautiful woman who was baptized when I was confirmed painting the faces of our little children up on the stage.
Dad and Casey manned (menned?) the grill and we had burgers and dogs, watermelon and salad, mashed potato sundaes. We had pink lemonade and a room that was hot and crowded and noisy, and it felt like we were asked to feed the five thousand, me and Phy and Michelle and Kris and Evelyn. We kept counting the crocodile of a line and it only seemed to grow. But eventually we were left with several stacks of plates and a lot of silverware to sort and put away, and snack time looming and dinner after that.
While dad and Casey were at the grill a man approached them and he said, do you go to church here? And friends, because everyone is welcome at the table, everyone, there are rainbow flags and windcatchers on our front lawn today. There is a banner that says, in part… as an act of penance for how we have treated our…
So they didn’t know what the man would say next, but they were girding their loins, I’m sure, readying their spatulas. He said, my son is gay, and we just moved here from New York. Thank you. Thank you.
I did a lot of dishes today, and at one point had a guest ask me who all these people were? Were we advertising more or something? I said, no, this is our church.
He looked confused.
I spoke louder, this is our church. We’re having a picnic today, you’re more than welcome to stay for the rest of the day.
He said, your church is eating lunch with us? And then his whole face lit up when he realized that all being welcome at the table didn’t exclude him.
And my brother told our children that they are miracle workers, that they can bring peace and friendship to the world, that their lights can shine. That where they see people who are left out they can invite those people in, and he made it sound so easy. This is their job, that’s all. Bind the wounds, hug the lonely, feed the hungry.
It is really what it all comes down to.
And finally, I had the great joy of seeing my new friend John today. Just out of the corner of my eye I saw him come in and he had removed his collar because it was hot. And he wanted to put the dishes away, to help, to serve. And so he did. Today I served with an actual deacon, and I taught him the word hot. I said, caliente, hot. And he said, haat. Si. Hot. And gracias, mi amigo.
We are all miracle workers, every single day, we are bringing the good news and the love and peace of Christ to the world. In every gesture, every door held open, every smile, every offer of assistance. Small things with great love.
Today our bake sale raised almost two hundred dollars. And the children voted. Do we want to buy a goat or a sheep? Do we want to send honey bees? Do we want to buy ducks or chickens?
And I think they understood, I think they knew how their act of just showing up had a positive effect on someone they will never know. They voted, by the way, for a goat, and honeybees, and a whole gaggle of fowl.
Small things with great love, they are learning, and they are our weapons. We are arming them to go forward with amazing light and amazing love, it is a small army, but small things with great love save the day every single time.
Without out suffering, our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the Redemption. All the desolation of the poor people, not only their material poverty, but their spiritual destitution, must be redeemed. And we must share it, for only by being one with them can we redeem them by bringing God into their lives and bringing them to God. – Mother Theresa