Monthly Archives: December 2013

Waitress Waitress….

In college I earned spending money by waitressing in Neilson Dining Hall on the Woodbury campus of Douglass College. One year I became a waitress waitress and had to eat at 4 to serve the waitresses their meal at 4:45 so they could then serve everyone at 5:30. Last winter I felt that role call me again as I prepared words to share with the crowd of 60 women from my church, whom I had gathered together for a Holi-Day Dinner out.

I wanted to share how I felt reconnected to that role because I was in effect serving the servers, the servants of our church who also were servants to their worlds at large, learning through their Sunday worship and studies, the selflessness required in helping those in need.

I kept that thought to myself, not sharing it until now. For in relating to an ongoing problem in my understanding and insight about God’s equal love for us all, that metaphor of waitress waitress came up. During worship today we heard of the January 12 Congregational meeting where the Nominating committee would make their report. My heart automatically sank for an instant or two or three. For I had not been notified that I had been recognized as a leader this time around, nor my personal gifts recognized, or if they were, not deemed necessary for special consecration in our church.

But then this feeling could be that of dozens of others that were not chosen….The idea of “celebrity” came to mind also. We were not the celebrities, the leaders, the officials. But then “waitress waitress” seemed to be waiting there for me in my spiritual malaise, waiting to serve me as the answer to take the smack out of whatever rejection I felt.

Those church officers served us, the servers, the members. They were assigned to do for us what we are assigned by God to do for others around us in our personal or public world. Had I been any more important or essential than those dozens of waitresses who served the campus? Are these officers….servant leaders according to our teachings and polity….any more essential than all of us servants being sent out into the world? Maybe in one way, they too were being sent out into the world to serve, and that, after serving us first or along with. Just as I, as a waitress waitress had to serve myself and then the waitresses, so our leaders had to serve others and their church community, the world’s servants. So for that, we owe them respect and gratitude in community with them. That’s why we celebrate them separately at times.

Should I also be asking what is it we are serving if we wait on the world’s people? It must be that essential human kindness at the center of all serving. A further answer offered itself and was what I received this morning after church from a ninety year old WWII veteran chatting with his natural level of pure but dignified glee in being alive and among his fellows in Christ. So he served me as much as an officer of the church because he was serving up the best, human kindness, his very self. And it is Who we are at our deepest level, where the kindness seed is always growing blossoming and perennially giving us and others life, that I had better understood this morning as what Celebrity in heaven is, what eternity celebrates deeply and utterly. And I am so glad to have kept myself from using “utterly” up until this last sentence because it is so essentially, definitively true about the value of kindness, utterly represented by a God who left home to journey in faith so he could be our fellow, our server, our ultimate server of servants. And what he served up was his personal best, his kind self and its wonderful presence among us. We celebrate whoever follows this ultimate cause of all causes, kind presence among others, for them and with them. Some serve additionally as official representatives, but whoever functions in this beauteous manner, serves us all and serves eternity.

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Spirit Walk

This morning our canceled walk was back on! So Lynn and I met at the parking lot near the lake off Main Street. We first ran an errand to the vet’s where Lynn got advice for her dog, medicine, consolation, hugging, and a special conversation about her son Sam who just passed away only last week. This vet’s wife had had Sam do work for her and they bonded. Meeting with this artist who is open and nonjudgmental, Sam opened up to her in a way he usually didn’t.

After a pit stop at Lynn’s we drove back to the lot and started walking. I started my Runtastic and accidentally pushed Nordic Walking. Well, Lynn said, there IS snow on the ground. We shared a lot about my spouse’s hard work, getting a masters of Divinity at 67, and how my life works around that, which led to talk about my brother and my volunteer work. But I was hoping to get to focus on Lynn and how she was doing and whatever she wanted to share.

Lynn shared her start as a Lutheran and the religious mentality of that early training which still sticks to her, that understanding of belief in Jesus, that without it, you go to hell. Of course she was focused on her son. She thankfully believes The Lord would have Sam be with him in heaven. I agreed, sharing that Jesus was always calling the religious people to repentance, often with great frustration. They had the most to change as far as he was concerned. He more often extolled some outsider than the religious, orthodox folk. Could it be the religious were further off his mark than were the nonreligious? Were their sins more egregious? Pointing their orthodox fingers out instead of inward.

Even though he didn’t find her religion palatable for himself at age 21 we knew Sam loved her and his family and that at his age he had more transformations ahead, but left us too soon before this could work out. He had that same repugnance to the religious, perhaps, that Jesus himself had…I’m wondering now as I revise this writing.

We discussed ideas she’d read about that helped her see Sam as finishing up some things in heaven to better prepare him for his fullness in there, not necessarily in those very words, but close. We talked of those theories and ideas from memoirs of writers describing their near death experience. I wondered aloud to her if in heaven I might be a teacher once again, helping people similar to Sam learn. Then quickly switched to voice that maybe Sam would teach us, for after all he had to endure in his life, afflicted with addiction, he had an important sharing for us. We agreed he would have depth we could never know unless he taught us.

Then 91 year old Bob walked our way. We got up from the bench to hug and as we all go to the same church we had a nice chat. As we walked with him he shared a WWII story he said maybe he shouldn’t, but he’d been in France using the mine sweeper he had when his group arrived at a huge hole in the street that gaped open with bodies inside that the Lieutenant said must be taken out and buried. Bob said he didn’t like it, that he told the lieutenant he didn’t like it. The hole was gaping differently on each side, so it couldn’t have been an explosion, it was a trap, he felt and expressed to the officer. Unfortunately, he did not listen to Bob and three men immediately lost their lives in that hole. The officer hadn’t listened to the man who knew something. Just because he was an officer, he did not listen.

See, this goes with Sam some day teaching us in heaven. Just because I have had the title teacher or just because Lynn and I are pretty orthodox Christians, doesn’t mean Sam won’t have something more important, more elemental to help us with some day.

God affirms the questioners more than those who think or rather, presume, they have the key answers. How much is God deeper and bigger than what our little minds can wrap around. We should just listen just believe a person has something to share. Sam is readying up to help folks in heaven prepare better for it. Just like what’s happening with him. Everyone knows something. Faith is defined as “knowing.” Wonder what you’ll have to teach, what I’ll have. Offices and roles will be replaced with fullness of our humanity in loving our fellows and learning by listening to them. We won’t need any special earthly gifts to do it. We’ll have all the lesser gifts in full measure, but will have to learn some way, the highest gifts of being one with everyone and loving to listen. Listening will be amazing. As it really is but can’t be here on earth.