Saturday, April 13, 2013

What's Your Sign: Flowers in the Interstate, Buildings Holding us Hostage

When I was a teacher, I could predict which weeks would be rough, full of student melt-downs and lots of grading to do.  I miss that predictability.

As an administrator, I can no longer know what the week is likely to bring.  I expected this past week to be relatively calm, but it was a week that made me continually check the calendar:  it's only week 2 in the quarter?  Why does it feel like the end?

In addition, a roofing project at church that was supposed to have cost $4000 and been done in 3 days has mushroomed into something much larger.  I am church council president, and thus, I can't just shrug my shoulders and say, "Whatever y'all decide is fine with me."

I could write a long diatribe about how our buildings hold us captive--and I have written variations of that topic over at my theology blog.  I could write a long essay about how Jesus did not come to earth to give us church buildings to take care of and shepherd.

I also know that previous generations have left this legacy, and they would be shocked to know that I feel this way.  How long did some generations yearn for a space to call their own?  How many pennies were saved?

Still, I plan to write a poem some day based on Psalm 137, with the building being the captor who demands a song of Zion.  Could I pull it off?

Maybe I'll set it to a bouncy reggae beat and it will be a big hit and I will get enough money to both pay for the roof and to remodel the building to make it more functional for 21st century uses and have enough money left over to feed all the poor in Broward county.

Maybe no one would remember that someone else has already put reggae beats to this Psalm and released it-- several groups, in fact.  Hey, it's time for a new version!

But in the meantime, there is joy to be found.  Yesterday, finally, was a quiet day at the office.  This week-end, our church hosts Rich Melheim of Faith Inkubators, a group that's doing some interesting Christian curriculum experiments.

The story of Faith Inkubators is a story that cheers me on, a story of a company founded with a vision of a better way of faith formation, and the vision carrying the group through the days of using their own credit cards to fund the publishing efforts and ultimate success.  So many of us are doing the same thing in so many arenas that I love bringing success stories to us all.

Soon, I will make a variety of bar cookies and sweet iced tea for the week-end events.  A potluck dinner--it's still one of the joys of being church.

You could argue that Jesus Christ did not come to earth to give us potluck suppers either, but I would tell you to go back and read the Gospels.  The God depicted in those texts is a creator who makes meals of all sorts, whether by multiplying loaves and fishes or by making a barbecue breakfast on the beach.  Sometimes he invites the whole crowd and sometimes it's a smaller gathering.

Last night, we drove home from our meeting with the church member who's been in charge of building issues, the man who can go no further until we make some money decisions, the man who returns north for 6 months and hopes to come back to find a repaired church.  My spouse and I alternated between despair and hope.

My spouse talked about his habit of looking at the palm trees when he needed to feel a boost.  His whole life he's wanted to live in a place where he could watch the palm trees, and now he does!

I often complain about living in a place of pavement and concrete.  But it's also a place of hibiscus and bougainvillea--much as I miss hydrangeas and azaleas.

Last night, as I drove home from work and came to a halt in the late rush hour traffic, I noticed some dirt with flowers growing out of it, right in the middle of the road reconstruction site.  No dirt for miles on either side--but there was a patch with bunches of flowers.

Did some ecoterrorist group bring it in to make a point?  Did construction workers do it to beautify their work place?  How did it get there?  It's not like it was growing there before, soon to be destroyed.  Several lanes of traffic was all that existed there before.

I took it as a sign, a wink from some creative type.  I wrote a gratitude haiku:

Land of paved gardens
Flowers grow in road asphalt
Life cracks the concrete

May signs of hope continually crack the concrete!

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