For Walks in the Rain, Qohelet, and Wilshire Baptist Church - Seven Gratitudes, vol. 14

Seven Gratitudes is a weekly gratitude practice. Several of my friends and I linkup every Friday to share the ways we notice the bubbling and swirling growth of grace in our lives.

Thanks for joining the fun! 

This week I am grateful…

1

For the gifts music offers us in chapel on Mondays.

Chapel at GUM

I have mentioned before here that as an interning chaplain at Greensboro Urban Ministry I get to lead our chapel service every Monday. The service is open to any and all. Chaplain Helen is very good at hustling people in off the streets for a little bit of Jesus and air conditioning. It’s my favorite time of the week.

Communing with God and my neighbors through music plays a large part in that. Sometime this winter I decided to use my guitar for our hymns and noticed a marked difference in the atmosphere at GUM as result. Chapel got theologically richer, spiritually deeper, and logistically smoother. Folks breathed more fully, as if we were in a mystical expansion of time itself. We had some rest together, some beauty. We had Spirit.

I am thankful for the ability to strum a guitar, lead a tune, and bear witness to the glory of God with my sisters and brothers.

2

That this is my life./That a minister’s tools of trade fit on the back of ladies’ room door.

Minister, Female

If you cannot tell, that’s my pocketbook hanging on the back of a bathroom stall. And, if you’ll notice, that pocketbook is holding some of my tools for ministry. A minister’s tools of trade find themselves at home on the back of the bathroom door in the women’s restroom.

The women’s restroom.

I snapped this picture to remember the gratitude that swept up in sweet surprise over the blessed mundanity of being a female and being a minister—of being a female minister.

3

For a walk in the rain.

April brought storms with her when she came. There have been showers, thunderstorms, and even wind advisories here in Winston-Salem this week. On Monday it rained so hard during my last class that when I walked out of the divinity school the sidewalk (on the Davis chapel side) was completely flooded. COMPLETELY. And the rain was still coming down.

It was one of those moments of choice. I could either huff and puff about having to walk out of my way to get to the bus in the rain…or I could embrace the whole of life, take off my shoes, and wade on in.

I took a walk in the rain--the flood on the sidewalk came halfway to my knees! 

The gift of that walk in the rain was a thousand happy memories, some of them my own, of creation at play, enjoying its aliveness. The rain tasted sweet as it fell on my lips and felt cool and cleansing as it soaked through my hair. The spongy, wet grass cradled my every step as if it were happy to have me there. Joy bubbled up through the squishy mud, pinged off the cold concrete, and splashed wildly at its own pleasure.

My bus mates giggled with me when I made it to the bus stop. We were all wet to soaking. One man offered me his umbrella as we stepped out to board the bus, which I thought was absolutely silly and very kind.

4

That courage and motivation can be shared.

It is that time in the semester when there is a big paper due every week and a project right around the corner. The library is a very productive place for me to be, but sometimes it is difficult to commit my body to its studious inner courts. I remember many a night in undergrad fueled on black coffee and straight fear as I worked to finish my papers, and it makes my stomach clench.

I love to study. I love to learn and to essay it all out. Stepping into the library, though, is to submit myself to Big Lessons, to the deep stuff that’s gonna cost me a few preconceived notions, a few thousand words, and a good bit of sleep. The Big Lessons, the deep stuff, have a process all their own and I can’t get to them unless I yield myself to their courses.

This can be scary.

I am thankful for my friend Angel who braved the belly of the beast with me this week. We settled in my favorite place in the library—with coffee she bought us—to several hours of uninterrupted work. It was hard. And it was good.

5

For hard data hard won by my smart husband.

As our cupboard shelves thinned through the last week of April, Aaron and I were excited to restock with purpose this month. We normally shop the perimeter of Whole Foods (bulk wall, butcher, produce, and dairy) because their wholesome policies make us feel safe about the food we eat and proud of the way they treat their workers, partners, and creation.

By chance, however, Aaron had to swing by Food Lion recently and he discovered a fair bit of organic options at a good price. Given our “in between” financial status at present, we wondered if there might be some merit to shopping at both stores. Who has the best prices? Who has the least amount of packaging?

Well, we just did not know, so Aaron spent several hours this week pricing products around Winston-Salem, clipboard in hand (only about 9 people asked if he was a store clerk!).

His findings were surprising. I thought FL would be utterly cheap compared to WF. The actual data, however, was more nuanced. The majority definitely skewed less expensive at FL, but WF surprised us in several ways!

Here're the results for anyone interested! Hope it helps your discernment as it did ours! 

6

For ol’ Qohelet and his holy earthiness.

The author of what our English bibles call “Ecclesiastes” is one grounded individual. My Old Testament class went through some of his work this week and I was struck again at the blessed simplicity of life when we forsake the rat race and embrace our God-breathed natures, when we find ourselves at home. Instead of busying our lives away with vanities (what I am referring to as “rat race”), Qohelet invites his readers to be liberated from the futility of trying to grasp life; instead, he intones, live it.

 “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25)

7

For hope and a future—we are moving to Dallas, Texas!

Rev. Aaron Bruce Coyle-Carr

I can hardly even write about this right now because of how wonderful it is…so here’s the short, short, short version:

Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas has welcomed Aaron as one of their new Pastoral Residents!

A pastoral residency is sort of like a doctor’s or a chaplain’s residency. It’s a full-time position with full-time work, training, and pay (Pastor George at Wilshire literally wrote the book on Baptist residencies).

Aaron starts on August 1 and I’ll finish my divinity degree by December.

There are many logistics that need attention and care, but I have such peace about this (and about 1,000 other wondrous emotions!!!). Wilshire has already been a balm to old wounds, a brave and unwavering inspiration for our hearts, and a hospitable place for our gifts.

I thank God for our sisters and brothers in the Body of Christ, and for seeing us through.

Amen.

EDIT: Here's a link to Wilshire's official announcement. <3


Seven Gratitudes Link-Up

If you would like to join in on this weekly practice of gratitude and chicanery, grab yourself a button and link up with us here every Friday morning of 2017.

Seven Gratitudes Link Up!

HOW TO:

  1. Write a listicle about your seven gratitudes each week.
  2. Publish your piece with a link back to my blogpost on Friday mornings.
  3. And then link up with the form at the bottom of the page.

Be sure to visit with the other bloggers in the party--THEY ARE TOO WONDERFUL TO MISS!


Where has your gratitude led you this week, beloveds?

Thanks for being here.

L