Monday, November 16, 2009

Can't Set Down

Everything was ready to go.

In fact, it was ready long before it had to be. The readings were printed, the prayers were written, the acolytes were trained, the speakers were prepared, the choir was warmed up, the powerpoint slides were all in order. On bright blue post-its, so that they would catch my attention, I was writing a few last minute notes about how I would introduce the chapel service. "We have so much to be thankful for..." I was going to say as I introduced the speakers, the choir, and the young woman who was going to play the Chinese zither for the prelude. Everything was ready to go...

And then, just like that, it wasn't. One of the speakers, a student, had butterflies. Not the little lace-winged kind that flutter around and make you hiccup, but the kind with great wings that beat the air and cause storms halfway around the world. We talked about facing fears and finding courage, but in the end she chose to look for a different way to give voice to the stories inside her.

Another of the speakers, a teacher, didn't realize there were actually two services rather than just one. Middle School Chapel is followed by Upper School Chapel (the fire marshall prefers we not all worship at once). We talked about finding a substitute for his study hall.

My son's elementary school called to say they were beginning the swine flu vaccinations momentarily, and if we wanted to be there to hold our son's hand we had to come right now. I called my husband, and we talked about who would go.

I gathered up my things - post-it notes, cassock and surplice, readings, birthday prayer list, computer, special connector-thingy-to-hook-my-mac-up-to-the-projecter... Except that the special connector-thingy was at home. I quickly saved the powerpoint onto a special drive-thingy and ran to the chapel to find my associate. We talked about using her computer instead of mine.

Which would have been wonderful, had I remembered how to get a PC to connect to the projector. A quick call to the saints of IT took care of that with literally the push of a button (it's always just one button between me and technological success). Saint IT over-corrected, though, as the words on the screen stretched out so that only the middle parts of each line were visible. us sing to the Lo...for joy to the Rock of our salvat...ome before his presence with thank... We talked about whether the Middle School might know the Venite from memory.

Everything had been ready to go...

Everything, including the Holy Spirit.

She showed up in the student who stepped in at (literally!) the last minute to speak in place of the student with butterflies. She showed up in the ease with which the teacher found someone to cover his study hall. She showed up in the mysterious inner workings of the borrowed computer that ran the powerpoint with the words to all our songs and prayers. Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy praise. Streams of mercy never ceasing call for songs of loudest praise...

The Holy Spirit showed up in the nurse who administered the swine flu shot that my son didn't even feel. She showed up in the multiple teachers who raced to fix the screen problem, so that by the end of the Venite (which it turns out the Middle School did know from memory) we were all able to say with confidence, We are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice...

We sang. And we prayed. And we listened as scripture was read, And God, who supplies seed for the sower and bread to eat, will also supply you with all the seed that you need and will make it grow (2 Corinthians 9:10). And we heard our speakers describe how thanksgiving had grown into simply giving in their lives, through Teach for America, the Peace Corps, and a student exchange program in Ghana. Seeds were planted, I think, I hope, for a harvest that might one day feed so very many.

The Holy Spirit had everything ready to go. She showed up, and she settled in to stay, and she surely sang along with the choir as they launched into their anthem, My soul is so happy it can't set down...

Artwork: "Like a Dove," by Kathy Thaden; "Firebird - Grow 2," by Ann Finch; "Pentecost Dove: Aldersgate Methodist Church," by Julee P. Lowe.

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