I put a lot of time and effort and thought into choosing my “word” for 2013. You know, the word that I would try to focus on all year long. In 2012 I had chosen “Intentional.” Actually I think that might have been my word for a couple of years, so I was looking to step outside the box. And there, in an e-mail I received, was a beautiful picture of an old farm gate leading to a beautiful pasture. And my word came to me–
I was going to be OPEN to new ideas, new thoughts, open to all kinds of wonderful things, looking for doors opening and open gates in a sense.
Yeah. I don’t think someone got the memo about my word choice.
(It’s a shame after I worked so hard and was so particular in choosing it.)
Because this year, my OPEN year, a whole lot of things have closed, and I’ve had to say goodbye way too many times.
And the year’s only half over. More good news.
Besides saying goodbye to my Mama and our cousin in February, I am saying goodbye to our sweet neighborfriends, who are moving. I am preparing to sell my Great Aunt’s house, a place I have always loved, a place full of all kinds of memories. And while we still have Blackberry Flats, our homeplace, I am saying goodbye to it as my parent’s home.
And tonight I had one more door closing, one more goodbye.
Tonight was our last supper in Macon at the shelter for our friends who are in need.
It’s a good decision when you look at all the information. I understand. There’s a lot of duplication of meals served on Sundays going on, and it is time to focus on resources and services that are being offered during the week. I get it. But it doesn’t stop me from being sad.
For three years my family and I have enjoyed fellowship with this group, a group whose members change some as time passes. For about two and a half years, we have been involved with taking and serving drinks. I love my Sundays–the ritual of getting things ready. The consulting the weather on how much coffee to prepare or whether to premake the hot chocolate or make it by the cup. The restocking the sugar and creamer and marshmallows. Stirring the sugar into the tea. It is all part of my Sunday worship and service. I shall miss it.
So, this morning, for one last time, I pulled out our four blue coolers. I washed them thoroughly with the soap and water. I put on the 40 cup percolator and my big stockpot of water to boil. When the water was done, I poured some in each cooler to sanitize them, running the hot water through the dispensers for at least fifteen seconds each one. I dried them out, and my husband took the two for tea to fill with ice. I dumped the coffee when it was done, and put another 40 cups on to brew. I boiled another pot of water for hot chocolate. After the coolers with ice were back, I counted out my tea bags, brewed the tea, added the obscene amount of sugar (we’re talking picnic sweet tea here folks), stirred and repeated for the second cooler. Today went faster than usual. I guess I was on my game. Which seems really odd, considering.
Tonight it was good to be with our friends. I laughed, I hugged, I visited, and I listened to a friend whose heart was breaking with grief and sorrow. Every week is different and I wouldn’t trade a one of them for anything.
So yeah, another door closed. I keep looking around–is there something gonna OPEN anywhere?
Turns out there is. I’m going to step outside my comfort zone and be a small part of the weekday program there. Remembering an old mantra from my Hospice days, “It will be different, but it will be okay.” I am anxiously excited. Does that make sense? It’s not a door I saw in front of me, rather a gate on a different path that I hadn’t noticed. It’s open, and after much thought and reflection, I’m walking through. And looking forward to seeing what’s on the other side.
Tonight I am thankful for my three years with this amazing ministry. I am thankful for all the friends who have become like family to me because of this place. I am especially thankful that my children have all been touched by this, and that they will never forget their time there. I am thankful that they can call our friends by name and that they ask about them during the week. I give thanks for those who have served alongside us, for those who have donated lots of sugar and coffee, tea and hot chocolate and marshmallows over the years–what a huge gift. I give thanks for our favorite coffeehouse who gives us the ice for the tea each Sunday. I am thankful too for our friends who stepped in when Daddy was so sick and when Mama was at her HospitalStay, stepping in–preparing and serving–so folks didn’t have to do without. I love you all. Mama used to say, “Many hands make light work,” and I know that must be true, because this never felt like work. It’s been precious, and I’ve loved each moment, from the serious ones to the light-hearted and fun ones. Oh how we’ve laughed and cried and worried together.
Tonight our goodbyes were hurried as we went with one of our volunteer friends (you’ve met her–my gardening friend) to pick up a kitten that had been dropped off at Miss D’s boardinghouse, and she just didn’t know what to do about it. She wasn’t allowed to have it, but she’d been feeding it as best as she could. Tonight that little baby has had a bigtime bath and is cuddled up warm and dry. Yeah, some days you just have no idea. I like that our goodbyes were not long and lingering. There were things to take care of, no time to dawdle. Thank goodness. (And my gardening friend brought me another Hairy Wandering Jew–isn’t that just poetic?)
On my way to our Sunday night picnic for the very first time three years ago, I wanted to be able to help or encourage someone while I was there. Driving home, tears came to my eyes as I realized it had gone just the opposite. My very first friend I made there, Mr. B, was an encouragement to me. I started off talking to him about his bicycle, and before I knew it, he was saying to me, “Nobody else is you, so you are the best YOU there is.” Wow. Some folks ask me if I go on Sunday nights to share Jesus with folks. In truth, and selfishly so, I go because that’s where I see Jesus. That right there.
I saw this quote yesterday, and it pretty much sums up how I feel about my time in Macon on Sunday nights.
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
― Rabindranath Tagore
So, “open” in 2013? I don’t know. Maybe what I’m supposed to be open to, as painful as this is for me to admit, is change–is the letting go–is being open to saying goodbye and shifting gears. Open to seeing gates off to the side of the path instead of looking for the doors right in front of me.
Maybe I didn’t choose the wrong word after all.