Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Countdown to THE BIG DAY

It's almost here and I can hardly wait.

No, not solstice.

No, not Christmas.

No, not 2007.

We are less than three weeks away to the move to TWO SERVICES on Sunday Morning. Yeehaw!

No, I'm not kidding. This is great news. We have wonderful reasons for expanding our services and great goals. The primary reason we have for the expansion is, well, expansion. We have one hundred more people in attendance on Sundays in our services than last year at this time. I can't imagine a more fortunate reason.

Our goals include being more welcoming to new people by having more available seating and easier parking. We also hope to be safer for people of all ages by having more room to maneuver and meet people in the lobby and at coffee hour. We also want to make sure that we are always aware of safety issues for emergency exit, and less people in the Great Hall at one time will definitely help with that concern.

For the past three weeks we have had listening posts after the service where people could come with their concerns about this change. We have posted this feedback and our responses in the lobby and on handouts. Thank you to all the people who shared their concerns, ideas, and excitement in these meetings. I believe your comments and suggestions will help to make the transition smooth and successful.

On January 7, 2007 we will begin having two services at 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM. The services will have the same content. There will be religious education for children and youth during both services. There will be two coffee hours. Please help to make this a success by trying out the 9:00 AM service at least once a month for the first six months.

This is a change and religious communities are not known for their relaxed comfort with change, but we have such a wonderful reason! Personally, I am delighted that we will be able to offer more to our community. I am also delighted by the involvement of our members and friends and all the newcomers who are in regular attendance. This is an exciting time in the life of our church.

See you on Sunday!

Veteran Cabbie

I was in NYC last week checking on a friend who was briefly back in the US from Cairo. I had several NYC adventures. I seem to be incapable of traveling there without adventures. The friend I went to see would say that I am incapable of traveling ANYWHERE without adventures. You see why I’ve kept her around for over 15 years.

Anyway, as I was leaving town I splurged and took a cab to the airport. I had a loquacious cabbie as my escort. In the first five minutes I thought a few uncharitable thoughts, I am ashamed to admit. I wanted to ride in silence. I was very tired, homesick for my family, sad to be leaving my friends, and a little carsick. My cabbie wanted to talk politics and religion. In depth.

“Just my luck,” I thought, “a well-read, extrovert cabbie with a yen for heady gab.” And a very difficult accent to decipher to boot. He was raised in Pakistan and, although American for 20 years, he still had a very thick accent. There would be no partial attention for this man. It was all or nothing. Then he said something that really grabbed me.

Think in a very thick Pakistani accent. Got it? Now read on.

He said, “As I tell my friends at the VFW, our country must be careful in these areas.”

Now that's something I don't hear every day. Turns out my talkative taximan served in Desert Storm in the US Navy. He reminded me of the incredibly diverse men and women with whom my husband served. When he was in, there were Samoans, Puerto Ricans, and Native Americans in greater concentrations than represented in the general population. At the time this upset me, because I felt it was illustrative of how some cultures are pigeon-holed into the most dangerous professions. After meeting my cabbie, I do not completely abandon that earlier presumption, but I've realized that the draw to military service is a more complex combination of factors.

My husband went into the military for the education benefits. I was interested in the military because I had so many relatives who were veterans. (Ultimately, my service was only as a military spouse. ) My cabbie said that he was so proud to be an American, he considered serving in his country's military an imperative.

I am now a pacifist. The cabbie, although a proud and active VFW member, is completely against this Iraq war. I do not know what became of the mixing bowl of people with whom my husband served. I can only hope the best, but in that speeding, swerving car what stood out to me was that we all had a shared American experence: the military. The cabbie and I came out of it with many of the same conclusions, in spite of our differences in age, religion, gender, and culture. The wake of war leaves strange patterns, but meeting him reminded me that not all of them are awful.

I am grateful to that talkative lead-footed man for pointing this out to me. I only wish I had pointed out that thing called a turn signal to him.

Hooray for Rhonda

Anyone know who Rhonda is? There are signs in various spots right off the highway near church that say “Rhonda” and have an arrow pointing toward Carytown. These signs have piqued my curiosity, my imagination, and my hope for love and romance in this rough world.

I have imagined countless scenarios. Rhonda is the internet sweetheart who has driven cross country to be with her yet-to-be-met beloved. The signs are so she can’t possibly get lost back into the Ethernet.

Rhonda is the long lost sister who is coming home reluctantly, so the family puts out signs, not to show her the way because she knows the way, but to let her know they really want her back. The signs are to give the prodigal encouragement to complete the journey back.

Rhonda is the friend with memory loss who has trouble finding her way. Rhonda is the woman met in a bar whose number you never gave or received, so you put out signs to bring her back to you. Rhonda is the birth mother, the surrogate, the midwife, the vixen. When Rhonda comes, all will be well again. Rhonda is loved.

I don’t know who Rhonda is but I hope she knows how lucky she is. People don’t hand-paint wooden signs for just anyone. Whoever she is, I hope she is appreciative. Then again, maybe she isn't and the signs are pointing her to the place where she will be made a better person. If only we all could be so lucky to have the way spelled out for us on street signs.




See? I just can't stop.