As I type this, I'm sitting in bed, surrounded by Kleen-ex. My ears are crackling, which I think is a good sign. I've got a cold, and I'm desperate to feel better: there is much that needs to be done (aside: this is a problem, when you don't have time to be sick; but I fear that it is not just my problem.)
Last week, though, I was going along smoothly; there didn't appear to be any bumps and there were several small high spots. (Ok, my car does need a tune-up, but that doesn't fit the profile.) At my noon Bible study last Wednesday, we had a new member. As we were introducing ourselves around the circle, she turned to one of our members and said, "I want to tell you how much you helped me several years ago." This person had had a personal tragedy then, and one woman in our Bible study, a single woman, had simply sat by her at worship, every single Sunday, for nine months. That's all. But it was exactly what this woman needed. "I've come to church by myself my whole life," she said, "and I'm ok with that. But this was exactly what I needed."
I kept thinking and thinking about what I could do for a children's sermon last week. I kept looking at the gospel, with its emphasis on stumbling blocks, and also on James, and healing. I had a hard time thinking of anything simple enough for the children. Finally, near the end of Saturday, a glimmer of an idea came to me. I bought a couple of kinds of ribbon and cut pieces off of them. I put the piece in the baptismal font and invited the children up on Sunday. I talked about prayer, and the different things we can pray for. I had the children share when they prayed and what they prayed for. Then I said that when they were baptized, God gave them promises, and one of the promises was, "You can come to me any time." To remind them about this, I tied a piece of ribbon on each wrist. (I had help from a confirmation student.)
During communion, one of the assistants whispered, "Are there any pieces of ribbon left?" for your children? I asked. "No, for me," she answered.
Sometimes, it's the simplest things we need to know.
So I've been putt putt putting along nicely these last few weeks since Rally Day, and feeling pretty good about my progress too. (Except that my car needs a tune-up, I think; there's this funny noise I'm hearing.)
With no warning, I was awakened early Tuesday morning with a sore throat. I kept pushing along, albeit more slowly, on Tuesday and Wednesday. There were things I had to do, pieces to write, church services to plan, people to call (not call on; I didn't do that.) That pesky sermon, the one that somehow interconnects the Gospel reading from Mark 10 with our Call to stewardship.
Yesterday afternoon, I gave up.
Because of stewardship, I've been thinking about how everything is a gift; creation is a gift; relationships are a gift; children are a gift. They aren't gifts we get to do anything we want with, though. They are gifts to hold lightly, not to hold on to. Or, let go of.
Yesterday afternoon, I gave up. Maybe that's a gift, in a way, too.
Though I still need to write that sermon.