I wake up to grey, threatening skies and know that today is going to be “one of those” Sundays. (Isn’t it always, for us?) Ruthie has “nothing to wear.” Sarah’s flip flop has broken. I grab my makeup bag and jump into the passenger’s side–my other dressing room. We make our weekly run to the bakery and discover the new worker isn’t trained in the church donation. There’ll be no table of baked goods to give away outside today. No matter; it will probably rain anyway. We purchase a dozen donuts and bagels for coffee hour.
After a Sunday morning pastor’s-family spat about cold fried eggs and running late, we drive quietly over tracks and past fields, and turn onto Main Street, and there are no cars. Church doors are still locked between red mums I planted yesterday. The community garden is frosted yellow. The sound tech is missing, and several others. And did *Ellen get a ride?
I drive several miles “on empty” and knock on the door of a trailer to see if she made it. Apparently she did. The lengths people will walk to find community! I put twenty in the gas hog on my way back. Fifteen minutes ’til service time.
That’s when I discover who else is missing: our worship leader (music director). Sick in bed. I wolf down a donut and scramble to find songs amid the papers stacked on the floor. Sarah frantically types song lyrics into the computer, for displaying on the big screen.
We forget to ring the church bell. Another token of brokenness.
People are coming in. I wipe the crumbs off my mouth, go to get a drink, and ask Anna to play soft music. Atmosphere is everything.
Dave steps up to the podium in jeans and a sticking-up wife’s haircut and greets with soothing voice, the voice that will teach the children upstairs today, if they show up. He is so willing. So humble.
Daughter slides off the bench and I take over the keys. It’s all His from here. We’ve done what we can.
In minutes, my spirit is raised along with the voices. I hear them, echoing the joy I feel. Joy that defies the clouds that block the sun from penetrating the stained glass windows. Bells are ringing after all.
The final note is played and all sit or stand in silence, stunned by God's presence. Can He really be this good?
I walk sheepishly from the piano to the podium. They know how much I hate the “one-woman” show.
"Let them hear you, Lord."
“They have been all along.”
I say it all and catch their eyes. We get it. We know why we’re here, and suddenly everything is inescapably beautiful in spite of myself.
We linger around toasted bagels and still-hot coffee and stories told of lives in process, and it’s all there. The Family. Nurture. I am full to overflowing. One year old, and since the first day, we never want to leave, it seems. All of us. Even though the sun is now shining outside.
*Name has been changed.