Last night we had “Messy Church.” A kind and talented young man, Micah, came two weeks ago, (when we missed because of sick young’un, round two) and led the group in creating papier-mache’ globes. Last night he returned, leading the multi-generational group in coloring, painting, and writing on these globes that are to become “bare bulbs” hanging from the rafters of the coffeehouse where we go to church.
Our younger daughter was so excited. Art is her thing. She grabbed markers and had so much fun decorating her bulb. In the midst of all of the art, there was great fellowship. Truly light was being shared all around the room. There was a cake, celebrating the birthday of the church, and Micah had brought a treat, Orange Stuff. It is his grandmother’s recipe, and he shared that he makes it to stay connected to her. That right there. Precious.
One of the “bulbs” was designated to be hung for the children to swing at and try to break. It was already filled with candy–pinata time! Our girl finished decorating hers, and passed it along to her Daddy for him to add his own touch to it. She was so excited about the whole thing. She came up to me, “Oh Mama, I can’t wait to knock mine down. It’s going to be so fun.” I pulled her aside and explained that hers would be hung up in the shop, but that the one that Mr. Micah had was the one we would be swinging at. Tears welled up in her eyes, and sadness was evident in her voice, “But Mama, I want to do mine too. That’s what it’s for.” I tried to talk her into being happy that she whenever she walked into the shop, she would see her bulb and remember the fun she had making it. In that moment, she was inconsolable, but the fun of the evening caught up with her, and when it was her turn with the “bat,” she was all smiles.
It took a few swings and then, as pinatas often do, it lost its string and fell to the floor, still intact. A few creative moves from one of the older children, and everyone was squealing excitedly over all of the candy that was scattered around.
It was on the way home that I thought about the evening, and I wish I had done things differently. Oh, I think in the end our girl will be tickled to point out her bulb each time we go to the shop. I think it will make her smile and feel special. But I wonder if I gave her the wrong message.
She was happy creating and making something. And she was looking forward to seeing it in action, this thing she had put time and energy into. She wanted to see it used for its intended purpose.
And I said no.
So often we have special things that we put aside and don’t use, saving them for a special occasion. The china, the real silver, a dress, a special pair of boots, the handmade quilt. I am guilty of all of these. The sad thing is that it seems like the special occasions rarely if ever come. And the things sit. Collected. Protected. Unused.
This happens with our gifts and talents too, I think. We have a skill, there’s something we are pretty good at. Maybe it’s baking. Maybe it’s knitting. Maybe it’s organizing events. Maybe our special gift is kindness and laughter. And we let it sit on the shelf until it is NEEDED. In a major way. When there’s a sign-up sheet. Sometimes we don’t see the value in using our gifts a little (or a lot) in the day to day. We don’t use them for their intended purpose–to shed light in the world and love on other folks. Every day.
I have a set of fun dishes that it took me a while to start using. All different colors with polka dots. Oh I just love those dots. And sure enough, in the using of this set, we have had three of the small plates bite the dust. There was a time when I would have kept them in their boxes–as a matter of fact I did in the beginning. But honestly, the joy that those dishes have brought me by sitting in my kitchen, making my children smile, getting excited over choosing (and yes, fighting *sigh*) their color plate or bowl or cup–that’s worth the sadness of the broken dishes.
So, no, I don’t think we’ll go and take the bulb down and bash it to pieces. That’s not where this is headed. However, as the bulb hanging down from the rafters of Bare Bulb Coffee will make my girl smile and remember a fun night when she created and did something she loved, it will remind me that life is short–that I should use what I have here and now. For its intended purpose. To love on folks. All of them. And not save it for a day or time or need that just may not ever come.