Yesterday morning I realized why I am grateful to be back in the ‘old-fashioned’ way of church.
I was one of two parents responsible for overseeing our teenage sons as they prepared sausage biscuits in the church kitchen for a youth group fundraiser. We had to be at church at 8 AM in order to do all the cooking, wrapping, and cleaning. This is no big sacrifice, except that our family had spent the weekend (Friday and Saturday) in Richmond for my youngest son’s final wrestling tournament of the season. It was two days of driving, getting around town in a group of 35, then spending an entire day in a stuffy, over-crowded, hot, and dirty civic center just to watch this son wrestle his worst ever (which is an entirely different post—if I ever dare write it), then drive the 2 ½ hours home late into the night…and then wake up an hour earlier than normal due to the Blessed Time Change so I could be “on” for these boys and their biscuit baking.
It was hard times.
Fortunately, the sausage-biscuit baking went well, the boys were hard workers even in their silliness, and since misery loves company, I was content to share my tired morning with another parent who is always fun to be with—no matter how drudging the chore may be.
When the boys had finished their kitchen work and were at the sales table, raking in the biscuit profits, I set about finishing up those final cleaning details so often left unnoticed by teenage boys…let me rephrase that…ALWAYS left unnoticed by any male in my little world—no matter his age. I was wiping down a counter-top, gathering and pushing biscuit crumbs into my cupped hand when suddenly I had the thought that I am the mother now, and this kitchen—this community—is my trust and my responsibility.
It was—as Madeleine L’Engle would say—a kairos moment: a “moment of mystical illumination.” In a few chronological seconds, I experienced “years of transfigured love.” (Walking on Water, p. 108)
In my catalogs of childhood images and memories, I have kept very clear the scenes of my own mother in the church kitchen—though I didn’t realize this until my own kitchen moment. She would be wearing an apron—maybe it was white like the one I wore yesterday, or maybe it was a checked gingham—and standing at one of the sinks washing pots and cut glass serving trays, wiping down a counter, or organizing the pie slices so that there was always a healthy mixture of fruit pies and lemon meringue. There would also be my aunt, my great aunt, my silver-haired Sunday school teachers, and my friends’ mothers all working, too. When I became older I joined them—not often—but sometimes.
It may be in the sanctuary where one meets with God, makes vows, prays confessions, and sings praises. It is certainly in the sanctuary where the body of believers partakes together in the mystery of the sacraments. But in the kitchen another sort of holiness happens. It is the holiness of the trust of fellowship. The holiness of doing well with what you have been given and where you have been placed. The holiness of the small task, the mundane chore, the attention to details so that saints can gather into a different—and equally eternal—kind of partaking together. It is also a place where the generations work side-by-side and so naturally, learning is imparted and whether anyone recognizes it at the time, kairos—God’s time—is imparted and makes holy chronos—that time by which we track our lives, for better or for worse.
And so there I was—now the mother—wide-eyed for maybe the first time to the community I have been given and my responsibility in their midst. I know God could have impressed this upon me in any of the other congregations we have been a part of these past 18 years—and goodness knows He probably was. But there has always been something about the structure of the mega-church and the organization of the ultra-contemporary (for lack of a better word) congregations of which our family has been involved that has allowed me to either: remain anonymous, or somehow think that my serving was all about me and what I could offer to bless others because of my gifts and my talents.
What happened yesterday was different.
I am now the mother. I have been given into and entrusted with a community. This is my gift. This is my responsibility.
Oh God, please help me to honor the trust you have given.
Copyright 2015 by Shari Dragovich