Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Church.

We went to church on Sunday. That is typically the plan, you know. Get up late, tornado all five of us through the house, then talk to our friends and sit in our pew and feel good-good-good about it all.

I'm a big believer in church. Years ago, I went through my cynical "What's really the point?" phase. But I reemerged committed to a community of a people who know what I know to be true, who bring me grilled chicken and homemade mashed potatoes and cakes from a box when the need arises, who huddle around me and fortify me.

We need each other. It's how it's supposed to be.

This Sunday found us having church across the street, in a little apartment complex that I have never once given a moment's thought. I never bothered myself with who lived there or what their stories might be.

We pitched-in a picnic lunch spread - dogs, burgers, potato salad, baked beans, fresh fruit, veggies, chips and an entire table of nothing but desserts. We had the 3 requisite yellow coolers topped off with lemonade, water and iced tea.

The residents had been invited to come and eat with us - no strings attached.

Grey skies loomed large, the grill wouldn't light. Our kids were all haywire, having been sprung from Sunday School on a lark. Oh me of little faith decided that if no one showed up, we would still have a great time - our little community.

And then, fifty people came.

Most were "Seniors", so I admired costume jewelry and took mental notes for future girl names. Harriet! Why not. Some had rouged cheeks that made my chest ache and some needed a bath. Some accepted help and others should have, but surely had their reasons for going it alone.

I ate my hot dog with a younger lady who took one bite of Dora's strawberry dessert and proclaimed, "This tastes just like heaven! I really think I just died and went to heaven!" This one, she has a hard life. It was written all over her face. She let it slip that her daughter is about to leave for college and I made my face extra bright, so sure that she must be over-the-moon proud. And I think she probably is. But I also think that when life bears down on you, every day, every day, you start to view opportunity as bondage. You see the world through mud-tinged glasses.

As we talked, I found room on my plate for dessert and went straight for her suggestion. She said to me, "I never eat food this good. Never. I almost feel guilty eating so good! I don't deserve this."

We were eating hot dogs and potato chips from a bag, and yes, the girls in my community can cook up a mean streak, but this was a picnic.

My heavenly dessert caught momentarily in my throat and I knew for sure - this was church. Our little community extending beyond what we are comfortable with and pulling others into warmth and understanding and tables filled with nothing but desserts.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats