Monday, November 23, 2009

For All The Saints

Creaking docks at 79th Street Boat Basin
Docks at the 79th Street Boat Basin

I went for a walk yesterday morning through Riverside Park, took an inadvertant turn, crossed under a bridge, and ended up down next to the Hudson River. I love that I live so close to a large body of water.

I kept walking and (re) discovered something else I love: creaking docks. You know the sound that docks make as they're bounced by the river waves, bolts clinking and boards creaking? It's all very nautical and lulling. I suspended my stroll and just stopped to listen for several minutes.

Then I went home; then I went to church. And there I heard sounds even sweeter than creaking & clinking docks.

It was Membership Sunday, or Covenant Entrance Day, or whichever you prefer. Several people became members and our church family got a little bigger. They lined up along the stage and - aided by a few questions from our pastor - told the rest of the congregation a little something about themselves.

I loved hearing their stories, which were all unique, and all kind of...quirky? Which means they belong, they totally fit in our family, because we are nothing if not...quirky.

Two of the new members also got baptized during the service. I tried really hard not to cry during that part, but it was a losing battle.

[Three things never fail to make me cry: this Sesame Street song*, the ending of "Sleepless in Seattle," and adult baptisms. So beautiful.]

It was a sweet Sunday morning, and by the end of the church service my heart was pretty full for this quirky band of imperfect misfits, who are a perfect fit for me.

As we sang our closing hymn, I felt more tears welling. I reflected that many, many a Sunday morning had seen me standing there with tears in my eyes - but those had all been heart-achy tears. And my tears on this Sunday were overflowing joy for the sense of belonging that the church (both local and catholic) gives to me.

I was immensely grateful to feel that shift from heart-achy to joy. Thanks to God and my group of fellow misfits.

And a heart-felt welcome to our newest saints/misfits. I was glad to hear your stories as you stood up on stage; gladder still that I'll get to watch them unfold further as we "do life together." As they say.

I considered ending with an analogy between the creaking docks and the membership service, something about how we're the docks, and we're tied to one another, and sometimes we bump into each other and make noise (discord), but ultimately we keep each other from drifting away and out to sea. But I think that may be a stretch. And life doesn't usually fit into a neat little analogy. Life is messy.

So instead I'll end with someone else's words, and a vision of life beyond the messiness:

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day:
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His Way
Alleluia! Alleluia!

*I don't know why. I really don't. But tears are guaranteed, EVERY time.

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