Today will be an unusual Mardi Gras for me--although my usual Mardi Gras is fairly blah: get up, go to work, come home, go to bed. No festive drinks, no parade, no interesting foods.
In some ways, I'm more of a Shrove Tuesday kind of gal--but I don't celebrate that holiday usually either. One year I did make pancakes, which led to a good poem, but a lonely meal.
Today our Meet and Greet fell neatly into Mardi Gras, so we broadened the scope of Meet and Greet to be a Student Appreciation event. Our campus director will be grilling burgers, on charcoal grills we bought yesterday. We will have salad and veggie burgers too--and all sorts of treats.
I have spent lots of time in the past week getting ready for the event. Yesterday I was hardly in my office at all. I was the one buying stuff: hamburgers and veggie patties, salad, frozen sheet cakes, paper products, sodas, water. And later in the day, I went with the campus director to buy grills.
There are days when I think back to grad school, and I say, "I can't believe my professional life has come to this." Some days I say it with a sense of wonder. Other days, my emotions are different.
At the end of my work day today, unlike many people, I will not be heading to a bar for Mardi Gras drinks. I will go to church. Our assistant to the bishop will be with our church for a visioning session. We've had an offer on our property. We have 4 acres, unheard of in South Florida. We've been approached to sell the 2 acres closest to the busy street, and then we could build on the back 2 acres.
As one might imagine, we now face many questions. Should we sell? If so, what should we build in the back? Do we have a larger vision than just a church building?
My mind immediately goes to the absence of affordable housing in our county. Could we build a building that had affordable housing units along with a small worship space?
But we're a small church, in terms of humans--could we really be landlords to all the people who might move in?
I like the idea of a retreat center that makes up the bulk of the church: lots of small sleeping spaces with communal bathrooms with shower spaces. We could use the sleeping spaces during shelter weeks, where we give homeless people a temporary space. We could host retreats. We could do so much with a retreat center.
I'd love an indoor labyrinth--what a great addition to a retreat center. It would be protected from the elements--and the vandals that targeted our past outdoor labyrinths.
I love the idea of a better kitchen. Right now we don't have a stove because of code restrictions and the cost of retrofitting our current kitchen. It would be great to have a more industrial kitchen, even though we don't really need it right now.
I love the idea of artist studios. I would love for my church to become a center that studies the intersections of creativity and spirituality.
Of course, part of me resists the idea of taking on a building at all. Buildings do need so much care and attention--and money--as the years go on. But a building can be a blessing too, with space for lots of groups and various ways to care for the community.
The church building we have right now is very dated--it hasn't been updated much at all, and it shows it. It would be so wonderful to start over. It's a wonderful opportunity. But it's also a heavy responsibility. I'd really like us to get this right.
I'd really like to know what "right" looks like.
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