I will admit it, I
used to love the band Oasis. I didn’t like how they claimed to be the second coming of the Beatles, but I did love some of their songs.
I loved the one about not looking back in anger especially. It goes, I’m gonna start a revolution from my bed, because you said the brains I had went to my head.…
That song talks about slipping inside the eye of your mind, which interpreted loosely (how one is inclined to interpret after a long day) speaks of prophetic writing, which is calling people into a place that could be, into the way the world could look, how events could play out.
Today was a long day. It was a hard day and not much of that hard had to do with painting and other projects that I was engaged in.
I was imagining prophetically this morning, driving over to the church with a few different donuts because I couldn’t remember which kind Eric said he liked. I was imagining that I would pull into the parking lot, just a few minutes after the appointed meeting time of 9am. I would have those two donuts and I would also not have a place to park. I was imagining that the parking lot would be full and the Parish Hall would be full and there would be music playing and people painting and someone on the phone feverishly discussing the lift rental that is needed to paint the highest parts of the ceiling.
Instead the parking lot had a few cars, two people there ahead of me. And the three of us worked and we worked and we worked. And then a fourth joined us and asked, how can I help? What can I do?. And that was all. There was no frenzied discussion on renting a lift because we simply did not have the manpower to paint the highest parts of the room without just moving into the building for the next week.
Sometimes, when I am convinced to un-clench my fists, whether they are clenched in defiance, in disbelief, or in anger; grace can drip slowly down; it is constantly amazing to me.
We told ourselves that it was rather short notice. We told ourselves that people probably had other plans already. We told ourselves that we could do just what we could do and no more and that would have to be enough.
We tried hard to shut down the voice that talked of folks enjoying a leisurely Saturday (because why shouldn’t they?), of folks who just didn’t want to (because we sure didn’t want to!). But Eric nailed it on the head when he said that our building is two generations deep in work that MUST BE DONE and no one to do it.
So it was an uphill battle. And I won’t deny it , because we tell the truth here, that it hurt that of the more than 250 people listed on the membership rolls only four could be convinced to come out and to help. It did hurt, does hurt, a lot – in my wrists and my feet and my heart.
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older. Shorter of breath, one day closer to death. Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time. Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines…
And so I ask myself, how am I to lead you out? How am I to be your deacon? How am I to proclaim the needs of the world to you, will you act? Will you show up?
You may be reading this thinking how unfair it is that I should write these things. How unfair it is that you didn’t have more than a few days notice of this, etc. But sometimes the need is immediate, it cannot be carefully planned for and marketed on Facebook. I’m glad we realized that we are about to pack our church with visitors in about a week and that our church was simply not ready, not up to snuff. I wouldn’t invite people to my house if I had primer on the walls and dishes in the sink, don’t we feel the same way about our the place that houses our community?
I do, anyway. And the folks who showed up last night and today felt that way too, that to bring guests into a space that hasn’t been prepared for them sends a message.
Sometimes we Episcopalians are bad at that, we’re not good at making space. We complain about people at coffee hour who don’t smell daisy fresh, we don’t want to make room for a Latino community that desires so strongly to live among us. Goodness forbid we learn to sing a Gloria in Spanish or sit through a bilingual Eucharist. Sometimes we suck as hospitality, for all our talk of welcoming the stranger, for all our lofty ideals and quasi-sermons disguised as Facebook status updates.
I’m sorry to offend you, to prance in and just sort of shine a light on all the parts that we don’t talk about. I’m sorry that it’s my vocation and that you’ve called me, raised me up, to do that very thing. (And I can hear my husband in my head challenging me, what are you sorry for?)
I am proclaiming to you, sometimes in Facebook posts, sometimes in newspaper columns and blog posts, in those annoying live tweeted debates — and many times in person, the needs of the world. And the needs of the world basically are expensive and time consuming and really not all that pleasant.
I’m having a terrible Lent and it puts me in a terrible mood.
Today though, I found an oasis.
In the midst of my frustration for that not full parking lot, for all the people who did not come to help – there was a woman on her backside on a paper towel. And she had two magic erasers and she was scrubbing a floor that is so big. She went piece by piece, scooting along. Before that she mopped with two hands and two mops and vacuumed the nursery that had a wall that had needed repair and paint for MONTHS.
In the midst of my it’s all about me lent there was woman who is building an addition on to her house, who had contractors and workers there all day while she put a second coat of paint on the walls at church and helped in the nursery too. And a man who did all the edge work, who was so careful with the wood and the windows, whom I left washing out paint brushes and with a five gallon can of paint to carry downstairs because it was too heavy for me.
Sometimes, if I open my hands, I can set something down. I can realize that it is too heavy and ask for help. Like a five gallon bucket of paint. Like my expectations. Like my fatigue, bone deep.
Tomorrow I will open my hands again. I will don the robes tossing in my dryer now and stand in a procession and open my hymnal. Tomorrow I will walk among you and sing with you.
Tomorrow I will go to a band concert and to Evensong and then to locate Lacrosse cleats.
And I will search for the Oasis I found today. The perfect quiet and peace found in purposeful work. The way we can come together, even if we are few, as we magic a new room into being.
I missed you today.
I’m going to need your help, going forward, or this will never work. You’ll need to trust me.
I love you still.
And yet, this is a sort of warning. If you want to stand in the hall tomorrow and make comments about the places that are uneven in light we have not experienced, if you want to pick out a bit that we missed in our clean up — you weren’t there to offer your help or your expertise at the time. So you kind of missed your chance to offer input or guidance.
Hey you, standing in the aisles, with itchy feet and fading smiles, can you feel me? Open your heart, I’m coming home. Hey you, out there on the road, always doing what you’re told can you help me? Hey you, don’t tell me there’s no hope at all, together we stand, divided we fall.
(PS: I know Oasis and Pink Floyd are very different. I have eclectic tastes. You’re welcome.)