Dear ones, I’ve been pondering.
I’ve been not wanting to do many of things that make me happy, feeling them to be chores, wondering how and why my desire has been dampened, casting about for someone to blame.
I sat in the cold nave on Saturday for rehearsal, and felt tears come to my eyes listening to our Laura sing a song, “Jamie is over and Jamie is gone… Jamie’s convinced that the problems are mine, and I’m still hurting.” I realized that I didn’t really want to sing, as I wondered if God would take away my desire so that in the end it would hurt less if I couldn’t sing in the choir, if deacons would not be allowed.
I wondered if that was a small gift somehow, a shining package in what, at times, seems a smoking ruin, a wreckage, a pillaged town of a life, floating down and sparking in the sunlight as it drops gracefully.
Tonight I cleaned this large room where meetings are held, with a huge and beautiful old table I constantly advocate for. I threw all the things away, old brochures, random expired coupons. I closed the lid on the piano and straightened the chairs, tried to remember how many people were coming to the meeting. I set out plates and I filled a bowl with ice and located tongs. I began to remember who I was, to see that there really is a path where I’d seen only brambles, only obstacles, I put my feet on that path.
I started to walk. And I could see, just a shimmer mind you, but I could see light. I could see a plain, a plateau, a place without such tumult and questioning, a place that doesn’t hurt so much.
We had a tamale fundraiser, and our people made like 90 dozen tamales, they pulled the meat and they filled the corn husks and they baked. All the while they worked and they listened to music and sometimes danced, I could see, just out of the corner of my eye, their red tent as it rippled in the breeze and how I longed to stay and to enter.
And then they sold the tamales to the congregation. Our family bought two dozen, and even I liked them, we marveled at the cilantro in the spicy salsa, I have a dozen left in the freezer. Our Latina sister came in toward the end of the meeting tonight, I’d seen her earlier when I’d gotten up to use the bathroom, refill my coffee, this beautiful woman sitting in a chair reading a pamphlet, almost dozing in the half light. She has hands like mine, they are thickening as her joints get sore from scrubbing and cleaning and folding laundry, from holding tightly to the hand of her daughter, holding her hymnal and her prayer book.
She came in to tell us, with her daughter translating, that we raised more than $900 from the tamale sale. And when it was noted that she and the other folks who made this project happen shelled out their own capital, we asked her if she wanted some money back to offset that cost. And I got a little choked up as she shook her head vehemently and said no, no no no. The money is for the church.
I drove past a local church that has an adoration chapel tonight, and it is dark out and the moon is still full. An adoration chapel is where the reserve sacrament sits, and you sit with it. You sit with the body of Christ, even if only for an hour. I don’t know if you sing or you read or you just contemplate holy mysteries, I’m not good at still, and so I’ve never volunteered to be so. I could see the small lights inside, the one car in the parking lot and I thought that maybe the whole world is an adoration chapel.
Maybe when we see the face of Christ in this place where we shoot each other and we oppress each other and argue with strangers on social media – when we see the brave head of a confused daffodil in the front yard in February, the face of a woman who has only just come among us and yet gives us every single thing that she has… it gives me hope. It makes me adore.
These are small gifts, they are messages, they drop down into our longing hands. They quench a longing in us for all that we think cannot be, they give us a tiny piece of what the world could be if we could just get off our butts and get to work.
The last five years are longing years, they are lost years. I am still being torn down and apart and asunder. I am still questing, and just when I think I am ok I lose my way. And I tell you these things because I know that I am speaking your words, I know I am saying out loud the little things that we hide.
In this dry season, this season of longing, of poking old wounds to see if the scab will hold or not, to feel hope and to see beauty is like a sudden oasis, like the way the dunes go on forever and then suddenly, Lake Michigan as far as you can see, all of that water to quench every dry and cracked thing; and we gaze upon such abundance and wonder how we could have wondered in the first place if the journey would stop, even for a moment, if we would find a place to sit down.
Hope is the face of a child, dreaming of America in a place that is filled with want and hunger and war – adoration is welcoming that child.
Hope is the person who comes to the window for food and asks me where I’ve been, remembers this process, this road that I’m on — adoration is asking how I am.
Hope is the dulcet tones of a choir. The voice of a girl who has come among us and sings to us and tells us that she is still hurting. Because the truth is an important thing.
The singing of those old songs at a concert yesterday, the way there is a thread inside me that spools ever outward to a place and time I can’t go back to, sitting with my grandma in church and the sun coming in the windows, and Uncle Aug leading singing and me digging through grandma’s pocket book for a mint or some gum — adoration is giving in and singing those hymns into the ear of my daughter, giving her a thread of her own, her own memory of stained glass and the way the music sounded as it bounced off the high timbered ceilings and my chest and out through the roof of my mouth.
Maybe all the world is an adoration chapel, a place to sit and to be still, even if for a moment. A place to sing old songs and long for all that was. And a place to act on that adoration. A place where even hope can live.
Maybe I can be still too, maybe I can take it all in. Maybe I can adore.
I am coming. I am walking down the aisle and my robes are fluttering over my patchwork cloak. I have my music and I will sing again. I am giving you more than words. I am giving you myself, I am bottling my tears, and yours too, to save for a day when we can rest in the safety and shade of our red tents; when we can unstop those bottles and water those brave and confused spring flowers.
I love you still.
I adore you.
“She was one who believed without seeing, felt spiritual emotion without experience of its source, kept an orderly faith and haphazard observance without the deepest marks of conviction. Creation had spoken to her…in the arcane language of cramped black musical notes…. She believed in her music. Now she was to lose that. But that loss would be replaced.”
Keep watch, dear Lord, for those who watch or work or weep this night. And give your angels charge over those who sleep….