A full day later, I still find myself recovering from the activity of yesterday. I’m still munching on the goodness of the day. It began with stumbling out of bed, hurrying out of the house, spilling the coffee I so needed all down my coat, and arriving to make pancakes for our homeless guests only to find that in my sleepy stupor I’d forgotten my griddle and a key ingredient. And then my co-cook breezed in radiating her usual positivity. She pulled out her griddle and a carton of eggs and passed them to me with a smile. With a deep breath sleepiness faded and the spirit filled me with gratitude for the joy of flipping pancakes and filling bellies.
Then on to preparations for worship shuffling chairs, changing candles, and the instant gratification of making a dirty floor clean with the help of our new “Progressive” vacuum. And, worship itself with my eldest son laying his head in my lap and sharing a gleaming- eyed smile at the preacher’s funny story.
But the high point of the day – the real glowing break through of the sometimes sneaky spirit – was bowling with the 3rd-5th grade boys. Confidently we began with no bumpers guarding the gutters. Matthew, no matter what he tried, got only gutter-balls. He’d turn back to us after yet another failed attempt with the most heartbroken expression. I tried words of encouragement and taking him into an adjacent lane to practice the elusive underhand roll. I tried sabotaging my own game by just being silly – trying to get a low score so that I could show that I didn’t need points to be having fun – but every granny- shot somehow resulted in strikes and spares. And then, we put up the bumpers. He marched to the line, he did his characteristic swing forward-back-forward-back-forward and plopped the ball down but the ball stayed its course straight down the middle and the pins went flying. (He didn’t even need the bumpers!) I didn’t see how many went down though because all I could see was the sheer joy on Matthew’s face. The smile of victory and the radiance of when patience pays off!
From such a fun and playful highpoint, it was back to worship at our first Hard to Be Merry Christmas Service. With great intentionality and care we had planned not knowing who would come. A small group gathered for a time of reading scripture, praying, singing, lighting candles, sharing our truths, and sharing the hope and peace of Christ. In the midst of grief, in broken relationship, in the changes of life transitions, and all those burdens that weigh heavy on us, we found strength in community. I was overwhelmed once again by the gift it is to walk alongside these beloved ones on their life journeys.
I left the house in darkness to start my day and returned again in darkness at the day’s end. But the day was filled with anything but darkness; there was light all around as the spirit showed herself. What a gift indeed!
When was the last time you smiled with such unguarded joy as Matthew did while knocking down those bowling pins?