Yesterday, instead of going to church, I went to spend time with my quilting group. We met at the house of one of us, a house that's been undergoing lots of transformation in the past half year. I quilted, one friend sewed patches together, one friend knitted (or was she crocheting?), and one friend sewed beads on a piece of fabric art. One friend couldn't come for a variety of reasons.
I am surprised by how quickly my Inner Apocalypse Gal leaps into action. She is convinced that one friend's inability to clear her schedule means that we'll never see her again. She thinks about how we used to meet regularly once a month, and now it's closer to once a quarter. She's both sad about that and feeling swamped by scheduling demands like the rest of the world.
There's always a bit of sadness for me around our quilting group get-togethers. I think of one of our founding members who moved to Virginia and died in June from a brain tumor. I think of all the other losses. Once we all worked full-time at the same place. Now we don't.
Still, I try to rejoice in the fact that we still make time for each other. I rejoice in the fact that we have gone on to other jobs, even if it means we don't see each other as much in our day to day lives. I can acknowledge that I miss people, even when they're nearby. I can accept a situation, even if it's not perfect. I don't have to perfect it.
In our early days of meeting as a group, I wrote the following poem. I was not a lapsed Lutheran, although I liked the way it sounded, so I kept that language. Careful readers may note some Passover symbolism too.
Strange to think that those daughters who used to join us here and there have gone on to college and soon grad school. When we first started meeting, they were in elementary school.
This poem was first published in Ruminate:
I knead the bread leavened with beer,
stew a lamb shank in a pot of lentils,
prepare a salad of apples, walnuts, and raisins,
sweetened with wine and honey.
No one ever had herbs as bitter as this late season lettuce.
My friends gather at dusk, a motley band
of ragtags, fleeing from the Philistines of academia:
a Marxist, a Hindu, a Wiccan, a Charismatic Catholic,
and me, a lapsed Lutheran longing for liturgy.
Later, having drunk several bottles of wine
with prices that could have paid our grad
school rents, we eat desserts from disparate
cultures and tell our daughters tales from our deviant days.
We agree to meet again.
Gnarled vegetables coaxed from their dark hiding places
transform into a hearty broth.
Fire transubstantiates flour and water into life giving loaves.
Outcasts scavenged from the margins of education
share a meal and memories and begin to mold
a new family, a different covenant.
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