He's back. No, I didn't go with him. (Pause for eye-rolls from adventurous, go-anywhere types.) Frankly, I rather Serve-The-Lord from the comfort of my new swivel chair from Office Max, than go off to fight mosquitos and ants, heat and humidity in the jungles of Belize.
On Monday evening after returning from two and a half weeks at The Bishop's Ranch, I said to Michael, "Just how is it I do my life?" This was not only because I couldn't find the slot in the wall where you take your dishes after eating. I loved doing two services a day, enjoyed thinking about what was coming up and finding a song or something to add to the mix. Sitting in silence in the church before each service was a blessing. "How is it," I asked the Lord, "that you managed to give me a church?" I had wanted one for such a long time.
Suddenly fed up with writing non-fiction, I offer you something different this month than my usual info-pinions. Here is a story written after I'd started our first creative Bible study, Making a Mark. It is part of the soon to be printed (please God) compilation of Word Shop Writings entitled, This is Terrible; The Writer's Lament.
Reading the quote below I was struck by a tone that seemed to assume everyone knew Alexander and Rufus. As I wondered about Simon's two sons the story emerged--with a surprising Oaky flavor.
A complaint I often hear about liturgical churches is, "people just repeat all those prayers without even sounding like they mean it." This is true. I am perfectly capable of rattling off any number of prayers and creeds, all the while wondering if there will be any good cookies at coffee hour. I am equally capable of opening my Bible in the morning and reading the daily dose of scripture, while half my brain is bumping around possible ways to get my ipad on-line so I can take credit cards at an upcoming event.
Seems like I just did this. I suppose that's what comes of being late in the middle of a short month. However, I have read three decent books since the last newsletter, and they all weave together: stories about story.
I'm not a great fan of thrillers. I'm too physically chicken to enjoy a series of narrow scrapes, even in print. As a mom, I spent years of devoted energy bringing little boy bodies into the world and watching them with eagle eyes through the mobile and brainless stages of development. Why would I enjoy seeing anyone risk life and limb? And clearly what many people do for fun (skiing, scuba diving, football) is evidence that the mobile and brainless stage can extend well into adulthood, especially in males.
It's all Bill's fault. Bill usually comes into The Word Shop on Wednesday mornings and parks til mid-afternoon. He rode the rails as a teen in the 30's, settled in Santa Cruz and worked in the canneries until he retired. He brings us things: garden tomatoes, a beautiful tapestry of the last supper, Halloween toys and a gum ball machine.
The Word Shop staff is an odd conglomeration of folk; each of us wounded and weird in our own way, yet committed to His way--His light fractured and shadowed on the planes of our personalities, yet light shining forth nonetheless--a city on the hill.
Our regulars are equally weird, most of them highly opinionated in one way or another; smudged light also, shining determinedly in their various locales, brightening our days by their presence and the resources they provide.
He was scarred by evil, before memory began, suffered great loss; yet was saved by sacrificial love. Raised where materialism and greed were the highest values, he received letter upon letter inviting him into fulfillment of his divine design. At last he walked through the invisible barrier and began the arduous task of learning and finding his way in a shifting world, where nothing is quite as it first seems. He received and honored friends despite their lack of looks, popularity or riches. He discovered one of his giftings while defending the weak.
Today begins the week of Prayer for Christian Unity. One faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all. A zillion denominations, ideas, opinions. Why can't everyone just get along?
Perhaps division is as important for bodily health as unity. Each finger, each toe, divided from the other grants a flexibility for pounding the keyboard that web feet don't have. (No, I don't type with my feet--just follow the quacky metaphor.) Love assumes connection despite differences, despite the great divide that appears when you look from finger tip to finger tip. Love struggles on.
The Word Shop is a gift from the Lord to his people, through his people. All the books, time, displays, plants, pictures, tapes, chairs, shelves, desks, lamps, coffee, are gifts; gifts to, gifts through. A living Valentine card, everyday. It gets quite muddled, between the recipients and the givers. People who buy the books are great givers into the store's life. Does the heart push oxygen to the lungs, or do the lungs bring it to the heart? Body Life; for love's sake.
The bottom line on the upper room is disciples waiting together to see what God will do. Between the Ascension and Pentecost, they waited in prayer and unity for the promise of the Father. I'm usually so exhausted after running the gauntlet of Holy Week and Easter, that the thought of doing anything churchy at that point is fairly repugnant. However, in this particular mid-March moment, having a prayer time at The Word Shop between Easter and Pentecost sounds like a fine idea. I'm thinking 9 -10 on Wednesday mornings, beginning April 3. Would anyone care to wait with me?