[This mini-series extravaganza was introduced here. Part One can be found here. Just for those of you who like to read things in order. You orderly people, you.]
In discussing what it is that makes me so happy about finding a church community to be part of, I have already mentioned what it does for me personally. And, of course, I'm as important as the next person. Which is exactly my point: if we do a simple inversion, we can also say that the "next person" is as important as me. Funny how that works, eh?
Just as it is so incredibly easy to zip through our busy weeks without a moment to sit and reflect and truly feel our experiences, it is probably even easier to get lost in the details of our busy lives and forget how much other people need us.
Wait: other people? Besides my kids and husband? But I'm busy! I have the kids and the house and my work and the doctor's appointments and the car needs an oil change and I'm late on the nursery school paperwork and shit-it's-Mom's-birthday-next-week and I haven't showered and there are bills to pay and the kids need new shoes and I haven't been to Target in over 3 hours!! My plate is too full for anything else. And besides, I do good work. That should be enough.
Except, in reality...it isn't.
Turns out, when you are a member of an organization that provides you with the structure for giving your time, energy, creativity, and financial assistance to others, you just do it. It becomes a natural part of your life in the way you wanted all along but didn't have the energy to start doing on your own. When your awareness is appropriately raised to the needs of others on a regular basis, you see the opportunities everywhere. That homeless family I have worked with this year? I was inspired to do that by a sermon at church. The teeny tiny baby I held for 2.5 hours recently? I was asked by the minister to go to her house and just hold her for an afternoon so that her recovering and unwell mother could take a shower and her exhausted father could do an errand outside of the house. Just by putting our money in the coffer on Sunday mornings we are giving to a local food pantry, because our church always splits the weekly offering with an outside organization.
On a more personal level, I am grateful for the opportunity to light a candle for whatever is "on my heart" during the music meditation every week. There is always something or someone to do this for. So each Sunday I rise and walk up to the front of the church and light as many candles as I need to send hope and love out towards the people I am thinking of - my father during his cancer treatments and now his recovery, the friend first struggling with her difficult pregnancy and now the sad loss of that baby, the family in need of a home.
I deeply appreciate having the chance to stop and think about these concerns and having rituals that allow me to do something with them - whether it's my time, my money, my energy, or simply my lit candle.
It humbles me to remember - most of the time, if not always - that there is a much larger world out there that extends far beyond me and my very small day-to-day worries.
It feels really good to be more connected to that world.