Maybe y'all are getting tired of the church posts. Too bad 'cause this is my blog. You can go to kendallball.net if you want some controversy, or the cool Lutheran neighbors' site or Ally's blog for cute pics of adorable children.
"Laugh with those who laugh, and mourn with those who mourn," (St. Paul, Romans 12:15). Or, perhaps less profoundly but just as classic: "Honey, laughter through tears is my favorite emotion," (Dolly Parton, Steel Magnolias).
Even the weather yesterday laughed and mourned by turns--glorious sunshine gave way slow showers, occasionally punctuated by inundations of stronger rainfall, and then gave way to sunshine again. We sat under a canopy surrounded by pots of tea and Devonshire cream and shared love stories and traded reminiscences, and occasionally remarked on the mercurial weather. This was my baby shower, thrown by the women at the Brooklyn church--the most relaxing baby shower that ever was. After what I can fairly call the most luxurious experience of my life--a prenatal massage at The Spa, treated by my Brooklyn sisters--we simply gathered together for an afternoon of uninterrupted hanging out in a gorgeous place with delectable food. It could not have been more perfect. How do you say thanks for the gift of a perfect day?
The weather cleared for our walk to church together from the tea shop to the Y, and--after a mad dash to the bathroom, as my bladder was the one element not in cooperation with all other elements of the universe to provide me with the perfect day--I entered our church space to discover to my astonishment that Ira was there with us. It took awhile for it to register, actually. I heard Sophia in the background calling out over and over, "Ira! Ira!" in this joyous tone, but it wasn't till I looked around to find a seat that I finally saw him. And there he was! Just 4 seats down from me! It was bigger than meeting Heath and Michelle. And the sunshine poured down strong through the window, warming my back all through our classtime while Joe talked about the canon.
And then Joe talked about what it means to abide: an archaic, unused English word that shows up all through John. Abide in me, and I abide in you; abide in God's love. To abide: to be present, fully available to the other, without pressing forward into the future anxiously, without projecting our desires for the other into the present moment to make ourselves, and the other, dissatisfied or ashamed of what is. Joe is on my short list of fine preachers (Joe, Mike Cope, my dad, and Brent: this is my list of fine preachers I have heard) but something beyond the ordinary happened in last night's sermon. We heard Joe speak, but it was God's witness.
And there were tears. More than one person was convicted; more than one sorrow was shared. And there were sympathetic tears as we mourned with those who mourn.
Many times over the last few months I have felt ashamed at the embarrassing overabundance of good fortune in my life. Things haven't always been this good for me. In fact, things have never been this good. It's a strange thing, I said to Brent a couple of weeks ago, to realize that you are as happy as you've ever been in your whole life. And sometimes I have wanted to hide that, not wanting to flaunt it in front of my brothers and sisters who are struggling with real tragedies, not wanting to be unintentionally cruel in my own contentment.
And what I learned yesterday was that they are as eager to rejoice with me as I am to weep with them. And this is what it means for us to abide with each other.