I am blessed in innumerable ways, which of course makes me want to list them: a loving husband, children, and extended family; the most caring, funny, and "wicked smart" friends; a quaint, quirkly old home; a job working in a community that honors my work; and a church where I go and laugh and cry every single time I walk in the door.
Growing up, I had a different experience at church. I loved my grandparents with all my heart and going to church was a way to please them. Still, the church services were stern and filled with references to scripture that illuminated all the different ways one was a sinner. I don't remember laughing, ever and if I shed tears, it was because I realized I was going straight to hell. There were powerful lessons of community but they came at a cost.
Here is what happened at my church today:
Reverend Judith singled me out and asked me how my health was doing and more importantly, how I was doing. "I'm fine, I'm fine...everything is going to be fine". She trained her steel blue eyes on me and said "You call me and let's set up a time to talk." Reverend Judith then called all the children to the front of the church and read them the parable of the 6 blind men and the elephant. After the children left, she preached a beautiful sermon entitled "What is Religion" and tied it in to the parable. The choir sang beautifully, and I was (once again) in tears. Guess what? That was all a prelude to this..................
Mr. and Ms. B stood up and addressed the congregation. Mr. B talked about how they had been impressed with a professional football player with the Detroit Lions. That football player had called together 40 of his friends at the end of the season and given each of them 55.00 dollars. The money was to be used to "spread good", no questions asked. He picked that amount because it was the number on his jersey. Mr. B then turned to Ms. B and with tears in his eyes told her that she was the light of his life, his moral compass, the reason his children were the fine individuals they were today.....and to honor their 55 years together, they were both going to stand in the back of the church and give each person an envelope with 55 dollars. Our simple instructions were to "spread good."
I am now contemplating the most serious decision I have ever faced with 55 dollars. I want to honor their trust, honor my beautiful, beautiful church, and say for the record that I think religion is about spreading good. I am so very lucky to have such people showing me how to do it. I will never forget today, in this life or the next.