I can’t seem to bring myself to church more than three weeks in a row. On the fourth week, I wake up, and think, yeah, I’m so not going. I like to take Sundays off now and then from church, and I’m not sure that it’s as holy as recognising that the Lord made Sabbath for us, not the other way around, or if it’s because I’m just tired out from a full week of people-stuff, and I just want to go all pseudo-hermit, have a bit of worship that looks like soul-care. Even though I’m a proper church-goer, a provider of covered dishes, I don’t have an illusions about myself, I know I still like a bit of room, so I make that room for my own self, no one else will do that for me, I’ve learned.
I spent the morning in my kitchen with Evie while Brian took the older two to the garden and Home Depot. I turned on the soundtrack of Midnight in Paris, and I made a roast chicken and summer garden veggies for my friend – she just had the sweetest little baby girl. Sometimes the only ministry I can manage is the ministry of good food.
Then I gave my own family waffles and sausage for supper because I was tired out from all the healthy cooking. I hoped I wasn’t a big old metaphor for putting ministry first, but I was comforted by the knowledge that Joe would eat his body weight in sausage if I let him, and really, it’s just what they like, and honestly, who cares?
Evelynn sat on the floor while I cooked and danced and sang a bit off-key, she was banging pots and pans, and I kind of laughed because, you know, I always use that metaphor for calling others to freedom and wholeness, that image of myself standing in a field, calling everyone outside with kitchenware, truly appeals to me but, hey, did you know, that’s actually really noisy and obnoxious in your own kitchen? She’s a table top climber, she’s a for-the-fun-of-it shrieker, she’s a go-getter, a boundary-pusher, a look-you-in-the-eyes-right-while-you-are-saying-no-darling-and-do-it-anyway girl. I am always running with her, my mother thinks she’s a three-year-old trapped in a 16-month-olds body, and sometimes, when I see that intelligent and saucy look in her eyes, I’m inclined to agree. And then fast and pray about those pre-teen years, Lordhavemercy.
Brian spent the afternoon on a project with Joe. He has a big fold out work bench that he made for himself a month or two ago. It’s the project that I mentioned here in this [love looks like] post. (Brian is quite tall; the very first thing everyone says when they meet him is: “Wow. You’re tall.” So all the benches and counters and sinks are at least a foot too short for him.) He built this workbench that comes up to my shoulders, and it folds back into the wall like a murphy bed. Joe adores it, and so on Sunday, Brian made a little one, absolutely identical, for Joe. I couldn’t tell who was having more fun, Brian or Joe, but they were working together, making their own kind of art, Anne riding her bike, exploring, and I’ve noticed my tinies just like to be with us, it doesn’t matter what we’re doing, they just like to be there, and there is no greater longing of their hearts than to help, let me help, let me be a part of it all.
People keep asking me about my book writing. I have nothing to say other than: yeah, I better get on that, eh?
Then I made blueberry crisp. And organized the closet.
A few weeks ago, Brian lead a baby dedication in our friend’s backyard. It was so beautiful and regular, just a gathering of their friends and family, the many littles running around, swinging on the tree swings, while the adults visited and stood around. Back when Brian was a pastor, he would fold his Bible in half and stuff it in his back pocket, so that he always had it with him, and when he loped up to the stage to preach, he just reached around for his Bible and opened it up. I watched him in the backyard, with our friends, my sister was there, too, and he prayed, welcomed everyone, then he easily pulled that creased Bible out of his back pocket, an easy movement I hadn’t seen him perform in seven years, and some part of my heart didn’t fit in my chest any more, it was good – and sad – to see. He blessed that wee new girl, and her family, and it was that moment when the quiet unassuming one is revealed as their true identity in the movie, he’s still a pastor, still a teacher, even after all of the deconstruction and pulling apart and rebuilding of our faith, and our understanding of church and go-go-go-programs on the premise of compounds and build-it-they-will-come, coupled with a new understanding of vocation and ministry, even with his business acumen, and the new normal life in the secular marketplace. But I can’t deny it, who ever could? He’s meant for this work, he’s a pastor, a teacher, a spiritual director, and there was something so good about seeing him in that role, in that office, for just a few moments in the backyard. Something good, and yet it made me sad.
I mentioned this to him that night, I said, “Don’t you miss it? What do you think? Should we make it more of a priority to pursue some official kind of ministry life again?” And so, for the millionth time, we talked it through, and we yelled at each other, then: ssshhhhhh! the tinies are sleeping! and eventually, he was laying stretched out on the couch, his arm flung over his eyes, we needed to go to bed by now.
“I miss it, sure, Sarah, and I yearn for it, and I hope I do it for the rest of my life, someday, but today was today, and it was wonderful. I built a work bench with my son, and I wouldn’t do it anything different,” he said. “If all I ever do right in my life is love those kids down the hall, I’m satisfied, can’t you see?”
And what can you do then, but go to bed together, it is enough, and this is glorious, and I brushed my teeth, he opened the windows wide, we like fresh air, and I kissed him kissed him kissed him under the red Ikea duvet.