After enduring another stretch of 40-degree rainy days, last Wednesday we were blessed with a full day of sunshine in the middle of the week. It gave Carol and I enough energy to make good on our promise to get ourselves to the Lenten Potluck dinner. A Domino pizza was all the food prep we could muster and, on the way to pick it up, driving down Rt. 926 behind Longwood we heard the wonderful sound of spring peepers in the warm early evening. This was an unexpected treat, soon followed by a lovely gathering and an informal eucharist which I have always enjoyed. Pete Peterson’s heartfelt talk that evening touched on the nature of faith and it got me thinking about my friend Beth.
Beth is a client of mine who, over the years, has transitioned into a good family friend. She was widowed when we met, but since then I have had the pleasure of working on several of the homes she occupied over the years and one thing I specifically remember is that she always had a post-it note on the fridge with three rules. I saw them often enough to commit them to memory and I offer them for your consideration.
Rule #1: SHOW UP
This one is simple, and it applies to all aspects of our daily existence. You show up for your family, whether it be picking the kids up to take them to practice or showing up at your spouse’s Christmas party even though you know that you will be spending the evening making small talk with complete strangers. You show up for work even though you know from the Email you got last night that you are wading into a potential mess. You show up at church even though you are sorely tempted to just sleep in before the work week begins again. You show up and try to follow rule #2.
Rule #2: PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT HAS HEART AND MEANING
This is pretty self-explanatory, and we have heard variations on this theme all our lives. We have been asked to walk a mile in someone’s shoes, try to see the other side, ask not what our country could do for us, and have heard Mr. Rogers tell countless children to “look for the helpers”. “Do unto others” clearly falls into this category. In the context of church, it reminds me of the practice of “centering prayer,” where each time our mind wanders during prayer (as it inevitably does despite our best intentions) we intentionally and repeatedly bring our attention back to the heart and meaning of faith. This brings us to Beth’s third rule, my personal favorite .
Rule #3: DON’T BE TOO ATTACHED TO THE RESULTS
We all have an idea of how we think things should go, how we imagine it will affect us and how we expect people to react. We do a little emotional algebra: I plan to spend this time and energy towards a goal and I expect a return on my investment. It does not always work out the way we plan, and we have been told this over and over. You pay your money and you take your chance. You learn something new every day if you are not careful. No good deed goes unpunished. Discouraging words indeed and a large dose of pessimism. But there is a flip side as well.
You cannot win if you do not play and the world is filled with more possibility than we can comprehend and, above all else, the Lord works in mysterious ways. What about God’s intended results rather than ours? So, I intend to show up again at the Lenten potluck suppers and Eucharist. I am interested to hear the current week’s speaker, and I remember Dick Kirk always said that on one of these days everyone will show up with dessert. Or pizza -- I’m OK either way.