Coming home from church today, I felt like I'd been hit by a ton of bricks, like I'd been crying for hours and hours, like I hadn't eaten or slept for a week.
Yep, a pretty normal Sunday.
I'd love to say "no not really, usually I just kind of drive home and lah-di-dah, it's like a normal day at the office".
But I work for a church, and there are really no "normal days" at the office, not on Sundays anyway. Today was a little more special than most. We had a number of rituals, and maybe it's the Solstice and the darkness or maybe it's something else but wow, it really hit me.
At the beginning of our service we light a chalice, an ancient symbol of religious freedom, and in our community, when you turn seven you are invited to light the chalice for the first time. Today we had an eight year old who just joined our congregation light the chalice, sign the chalice lighters book and then play a Ode to Joy on the piano. She was wearing what she called her "Cinderella" dress with a beautiful wide white skirt and sweet young-girl fancy shoes. I get to help the kids light the chalice and whisper to them what to do next as we stand before the congregation.
Right then, as she finished signing her name to the chalice lighters book, I whispered to her "now we just smile at Rev. Peg" and we stood there, listening to her official introduction to the community, right then, I started to cry.
I cried while she beautifully played our grand piano, I cried during our annual Christmas child blessing for her baby sister and another older boy. During the ritual, I get to thank the parents for the honor of having their child in our community--more tears-- and then I get to lead the congregation in a promise to help raise the children, and charge the children of the congregation to welcome these children and include them in everything that happens. Tears. I held the sacred vial of water, this time it was the water our children collected from all over the continent for our water communion ceremony last fall. The minister touches the water to the forehead of the child, and we welcome them to this beautiful life. I hand them a rose,symbol of their unique beauty. Tears. It's such an honor to participate in this sacred ritual, such an honor.
Then after a lovely story for all ages and singing the children out, I stayed for the prayer of remembrance for a beloved member of our congregation who died on Wednesday. I sat in the back, and let the tears just go. He will be deeply missed by all. It was good to stay, it was hard, but it was good.
We have the new life, and the loss. The joy and the sorrow. The light and the dark. Coming to the age of reason, and gracefully letting life go.
No, it's not the paperwork or the dozen runs up and down our three flights of stairs, it's not the meetings, or the snafu with a projector, none of that wears me out. It's all the living and dieing and life that happens every Sunday, and every day in between in the life of a church.
It's awfully good work, if you can get it. And I am humbly thankful to be completely exhausted! Blessed day. Blessed light. Blessed dark. Blessed death. Blessed life.