Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Alternative Evening Activities

I am exhausted this morning.  Last night after work, I slipped away from work to go to my secret appointment, my very transgressive activity.

No, no, no, it's nothing like that.  I spent hours doing this:

Well, not the doing, but the supervising.  It's that time of year again:  Vacation Bible School!  For more on why we drew hands on white cloth, see this blog post at my theology blog (hint:  last night's activity involved quilts).

Why do I call this activity transgressive?  For all sorts of reasons.

I've noticed through the years that people have a wide variety of reactions when I tell them that I'm giving a week of my evenings to do VBS.  They wonder why I do it, since I have no children.  They wonder if it makes a difference.  They can't imagine that an artifact from their childhood like VBS still exists--and then they talk about why we've made the changes that we have, like holding VBS at night. 

And many of the people I know haven't been to a church since they left the unsatisfying churches of their youth.  Some of them act as if I'm going to some strange cult that indoctrinates children.

Actually, very few people have reacted like that.  But they do wonder why I'm willing to upend my schedule the way that I do.  One person said to me "You must really care about the spiritual life of children."

Well, yes, but I care about the spiritual lives of all of us.

I told my spin instructor why I wouldn't be there in the evenings this week, and she said, "We'll miss you."

I said, "I'll miss you guys too, but some times it's important to do things for the greater good."

She gave me that big smile and said, "That's a great way of thinking." 

I started thinking about how few of us think that way anymore.  We don't care about all school districts, just the ones where our children go or the ones that affect our property values.  Many of us will respond to a huge tragedy, but how many of us respond to the ongoing tragedies?  I could go on and on.

I am heartened, though, by how many of us still respond to tragedies of all sorts.  At least our hearts are not hardened.

And here's a secret, less I sound so morally superior:  I do VBS because it's fun.  I like the planning with these people who have become my friends.  I like the interactions with children.  I love the chance to play with art supplies.

I also like feeling like the work I do has meaning.  I don't mean the spiritual formation of children.  I hope that will happen, but I really can't be sure.

No, here's what I mean:  I go to a smaller church.  To put on VBS each year, we need every person who is capable of helping to help.  It doesn't matter that I have no children--I'm willing to put together a piece of VBS, and people are eager to have me do it.  In a larger church, it might be years/decades before I had the opportunity to plan a week of arts and crafts for VBS. 

I like feeling appreciated.   I go through many a day where I wonder how we came to forget to say "please" and "thank you."  When I spend a week of evenings at VBS, I hear those words a lot.

In short, I get many benefits from this week of alternative evening activities.  It's worth the exhaustion.  And even my exhaustion has a benefit:  it reminds me of how easy my life is in so many aspects.

Tonight it's on to clay!  And soon, the most essential element:  glitter!

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