Belonging: 1

4:51 a.m. Friday July 20, 2018

Sitting on the screen porch listening to the wind making music on our wind chimes and in the trees of our neighborhood. It’s dark, except for the light from my laptop and a few yard lights on the houses behind ours.

All around me people are still asleep preparing to begin a new day. Alarm clocks are set to go off and the frenzy of life is about to begin for another period of consciousness. Some dreams are playing out and some nightmares are coming to a welcomed end.

What will this day hold?

One of the most profound privileges of being a pastor of the church, is that I am blessed to be integrally connected to the lives of people for whom I care deeply. Some of them I have known for a very long time. Some of them I will never meet, never know their names, never even realize they exist. Yet we are connected in ways that transcend the mere external experiences of sight, sound, touch, and taste.

I excluded smell because, in the words of a man I only met through my mom’s stories, “I don’t smell so good.” I lost my sense of smell years ago. Mom had a friend named Dorothy who also had no olfactory sense, and her son used to say, “Yeah, my mom she don’t smell so good.”

I don’t recall ever meeting him, but through my mom’s frequent sharing of that quip whenever the mention of my disability came up, I get a smile on my face. That brief experience of inward laughter produces a slight spike in endorphins released into my blood stream and I feel a little bit better and more connected to the world in which I live.

I feel just a tinge of happiness.

The sky is beginning to lighten and traffic is picking up on the highway just to the north of our house. And so another day is in the offing. The events of this day will bring some to the peak of elation as expectations are met, hard work brings projects to completion, success is celebrated and hopes and dreams come to fruition. The events of this day will also bring some to their knees in grief and sorrow as expectations are smashed, hard work comes to naught, success is not achieved, and hopes and dreams are crushed under the weight of inexplicable circumstances.

I consider all these things, knowing that the day will be both boon and bane. I have expectations, hopes and dreams of my own for the day. I have plans. I have desires. I have needs and wants.

I also have fears and apprehensions. I have confidence and faith to counter those.

I am an optimist. I believe that I will finish this day’s race alive and healthy. I expect to receive hugs from my wife and daughter, speak on the phone with at least one friend, and spend time in prayer with people I love. I will read, drive, clean (it’s my day off and we are clearing out the basement after water got in a ruined a bunch of “stuff.”) I will go to my Dermatologist appointment and have spots Actinic Caratosis removed via freezing. It will hurt, but then that pain is a reminder that I am alive, I am privileged to live another day and experience all that the day holds in store for me.

I am blessed. Another smile (with its accompanying endorphins) as for some unknown reason memories of my grandmother flood my mind. I have a picture of her wearing my brown leather fedora that is both whimsical and gives me a deep sense of foundation upon which my life is built.

I have a major spiritual connection to my grandmothers. They were my baptismal sponsors and in many ways taught me the importance of the spiritual bond we have with one another. Grandma Olive (mom’s mom) was the one with which I had the privilege of worshiping whenever we visited. We would stay for the weekend and attend worship together at least once each month as I was growing up. I learned the value of faithfulness and commitment from her. When she was 70 years old, her church needed to hire a new secretary. She volunteered to fill in temporarily until they found a permanent secretary. On her 80th birthday she finally had to put her foot down and say that 10 years was enough.

Grandma Hannah (dad’s mom) taught me an important lesson in belonging through a very simply and humble witness to our shared identity as children of God. Grandma was as dependable as clockwork. My sister, brother, and received cards for our birthdays every year. In them was a small gift of money, the same year after year. My sister would get a card with $2.00. My brother would get a card with $2.00. And I, the youngest (by 10 and 8 years) got a card with $3.00. We each got $2.00 because we were her grandchildren, by my card held an extra $1.00 because I was also her godchild.

I’m not sure why these memories are flooding my mind as I write, except that I have been thinking a great deal about belonging lately. I peruse my Facebook feed each day and see the dramas of life played out in memes and posts, shares and comments, likes, smilies, emojis, hearts, laughs and cries. I read news that brings tears to my eyes as in the death of my friend Kim’s son, and joy to my heart in the adoption announcements of other friends. FB can be a rollercoaster, actually it is most days.

We will make it through this day together, because we belong to one another. We will share one another’s joys and sorrows, face to face or via social media. We will experience spikes of endorphins at the good, the happy, the joyful; which will strengthen and empower us to face the uncertain, the unknown and the temporary realization of our fears.

6:07 am July 20, 2018

My coffee cup is empty and it is time to get ready to do more basement cleaning. BTW, did I mention that I hate that job? But it does feel good when it is done.