Tears on Water Wednesday
The sermon was about the Church, about how we are the Church. I listened as I put myself together for the day, braided my hair. In the first ten of the 20-minute teaching, he’d hit a nerve that is raw, though I wish it weren’t. Not the kind of nerve like someone gets on, but the kind of nerve that is exposed and is tender to the touch, that makes you wince, makes your eyes water. I thought about the Church and belonging.
I hit pause on the podcast while I fixed breakfast for house guests, one gentleman from Mexico and one from South Carolina. We talked about the pond behind our house and the geese that fly in most days. I explained how the geese aren’t welcome on or around that body of water, because they make a mess. Journey milled about the kitchen waiting for me to drop something so she could do her part to clean up.
John returned from taking Aidan to school, and he joined in the conversation. We talked more about the geese and about theology and the ways we talk about God. One of our guests made note of how difficult it is to have conversations these days. “We’ve lost the ability to keep relationship when everyone doesn’t agree.” We all agreed. They finished their eggs and toast and headed out the door.
I hit the play button to resume listening to the sermon and set about watering the plants. As I took my elephant watering can from plant to plant, Winn moved through his thoughts and reflections and exhortation. He said, “Our faith is not a solitary faith. We need one another. We even need people we don’t like and don’t agree with… as people who want to live in the way of Jesus, as people who want the Kingdom of God to come on earth as it is in heaven…” This sermon was causing an ache, making me uncomfortable. I emptied the rest of the water onto the fern.
I put my little cup of coffee, the one John leaves for me each morning, in the microwave. Winn's sermon still tangibly with me, I thought about belonging. The word, the concept, felt like a lapel pin, and maybe I had forgotten to fasten the back. It pricked at my skin every once in a while.
My pen and notebooks collected, coffee warmed and a square of dark chocolate in hand, I sat down to meet my friend and coworker over a video call. The span of a 19-hour drive, two time zones, and four states bridged in an instant. And just like usual, we began, pre-work. How are you really, we ask, and share back and forth. Then work.
I took notes, and we talked about place and writing and community. We talked about belonging. I let myself cry, and my friend asked me not to hinder my tears. We returned to our list, the work we gathered around.
The day carried on like that, listen and think and cry, then work until the tasks were completed. Rinse and repeat, several times. A sermon. Then work of my hands to make breakfast. Talk around the table. Then the work of my hands to clean up and water plants. Long communication concerning life and wellness. Then long communication about the required work. A text message about the glory of cocoa drizzled kettle corn. Then the work of letting Aidan drive to the rink. A voice message from a friend. Notes about some work to come. Watching the sun slip behind the mountains. A phone call from a friend. Then the work of letting Aidan drive home. Music. Then finish the work.
All throughout, I thought of the sermon and the raw places in me. I thought about belonging and ordered a book about adoption and "the sacrament of belonging in a fractured world." The gift of tears came, time and again. I didn’t hinder them.