Yesterday I experienced one of those quixotic holiday celebrations. The kind of lovely pastoral scene that you would expect from a Jessica Lang movie, but which have often escaped me no matter how hard I’d try.
Perhaps it was that I was there almost by accident.
As normal I rode the 30 miles out to church with a group of friends who are also expatriates. It was a beautiful sunny day that promised temperatures into the 50’s. My hope was to enjoy the service and get home with enough energy to clean house and direct the other residents to do the same. A… the proverbial plans of mice and men.
As often happens to me during the holidays, time had snuck up on me. This was the Sunday of the Community Thanksgiving celebration.
I frantically tried to reach my daughter who would be expecting me home, but her phone was dead. My granddaughter’s phone was shut off in her book bag. I fiddled with my slightly smart phone to send an email, but beyond that I was 30 miles from home and would be until late afternoon.
The Sunday worship service was thoughtful. Our Pastor stretched us to understand the true Biblical/Gospel meaning of family. While so many are busy complaining about Uncle Joe who laughs too loud, or Aunt Hattie who pinches our cheeks, Christ reminds us that our family extends beyond that to those who make us really uncomfortable. We need to include the poor and the lame and the despised. Perhaps I should practice opening my heart to the Lexus driver.
Now this is a wonderful celebration that I actually look forward to. Choir members from various area congregations joined to present music of Thanksgiving, Wonder and Awe. Friends that I have not seen since Lent shared hugs and updates on family and farm. Local talents shared poetry, stories, music and prayer. A young teacher spoke of the refugee children in her class, and reminded us that we have more to be thankful for than we can ever imagine.
My friend who has survived cancer for 5 years or more was there looking sophisticated nd lovely, a far cry from the shitkickers we often wore in our daily life. A still young to me friend with MS looked so well I had to do a double take to be sure it was her before I grabbed her for a hug. I sang tenor sitting next to my former choir director.
As I sat listening to the haunting beauty of a cellist, gracefully bowing the strings as the light streaming through a stained glass window highlighted the tawny glow of the cello, I recognized the moment, and the day for the treasure it was.
Unexpected. Not of my doing. A pure gift from God and my community of believers.This afternoon of pleasure, warmly shared, while I was reminded so many others were struggling with the cold, windy and still dark aftermath of a hurricane. The day after my family sang their mother to rest after a long and loving life. In the midst of a time of terror and trial across the world, I had the blessing of a warm, sunny afternoon, in a polished wood sanctuary giving thanks, praying for others and having my spirit and will recharged to go out into the world to share my good fortune.