Sunday, February 24, 2013

An Extreme Grace

We began well. Actually, our beginning was stellar. We all woke up loving life and one another which, for six very unique individuals, is something to behold. It was this morning anyway. Molly, up first, but not too early coaxed her dad from bed to dish out her Lucky Charms...breakfast of four year olds. Soon Kate awoke but coasted a bit on the couch which had served as her Friday night bed. When I climbed from bed a few minutes later, the kitchen was full of coffee scented goodwill and bubbling conversation.

The older kids soon joined us and we were a happy group, playing coffee shop in our own kitchen, and beauty shop soon after with the little girls in the bathroom. A slow morning to be sure, things getting done but with little rush or worry and all of it in pajama-clad luxury. 

But then somewhere along the way there were chores and hurt feelings and raised voices and dirty dishes and pointed remarks and haughty glances, and frequently tears abounded and the song that had been our perfect morning was choked into a silent misery.

It's like that some days. For us, it's often on a Saturday. 

I don't know what it's like in the families of other ministers, or preachers, or pastors on Saturdays, but in our own little world that day of the week seems to take on a personality all of its own. 

From the moment we wake up, we are, in some form or fashion, in launch mode as if NASA has pushed some shiny red button which causes every last one of us, all the way down to Miss Lucky Charms herself, to move through each part of our day in total relation to the day that follows.   

Saturday then is a counting backwards from Sunday.

It is also a day that carries with it an odd sense of extreme, like this morning. This morning wasn't just lovely with all of us gathered round sipping homemade lattes and uploading Instagram pictures, it was extremely lovely. The kids weren't just enduring one another this morning like it was a regular ole Tuesday, they were getting on famously...because it was Saturday. 

Conversely this afternoon when the wheels came off, things weren't just unpleasant, they were extremely unpleasant. The arguments, and there were many, weren't just squabbles, they were battles and they were extreme because words tossed about on Saturdays are taken in much deeper than they are on Thursdays or Fridays...

...and because while all of it, the good and the awful, is going on, so is the backward count from tomorrow, from Sunday, the day when we understand that all must be right amongst us. It's the deadline for all ill will and disharmony. The day by which all strivings should have ceased. Oh, we know this point well. We've endured a time or two when we've allowed our Saturday extremes to slosh over into Sunday and it isn't pretty. It is in fact, extremely ugly. 
We know, those of us who have lived through an Ugly Sunday or two, what a crippling effect it has on the Pastor, on his family, and whether they know it or not, on the church family at large. 

That any of the six of us possess the ability to derail an entire Sunday for an entire community of faith is what drives a Saturday to extreme. If Saturday finds us jolly, then there is a bit of pressure, real or imagined, for us to see if we can make it till bedtime without incident or at least make it until we start getting our clothes ready for morning because that task, even on a great high-flying day, runs us into a myriad of tangles.

If on the other hand, Saturday finds us struggling, we go through the day ready for the episode that will surely sink the ship and then we dread the pressure of getting everything  resolved in due time...really and sincerely resolved...not pretend for-the-day-resolved, as that kind of resolved is just an Ugly Sunday with too much make-up plastered onto it.

Whichever Saturday we've encountered each weekend, we are learning to clean our messes quickly. Rather we know that we should clean our messes quickly and we are getting better with time about doing just that. 

That we have had help, I am confident.

I don't know what it's like for other families of pastors or preachers or ministers, but in our own little world, in our own family of faith, people are praying for us. I want to think that as a general rule congregations pray earnestly for their pastor, it's just the right thing to do. 

I suspect however, that those praying for our family don't do it out of a noble sense of obligation, they pray for us because they know us, really really know us and surely they know that without those prayers we are sunk. Surely they pray for us out of a sense of desperation and fervently at that.

The result of all of that desperate fervent praying is easily seen in the peaceful ending of our day. We finished much like we started. Therein lies the miracle.

Forgivenesses were gifted and accepted, tears dried, friendships restored, play times salvaged, wounds self-inflicted and otherwise were healed. There was laughter and lightness, and loads that were lifted. There were kisses and cuddles and Kumbyas. There was sushi and sorbet and the six of us all smashed together on the couch watching old reruns of the Cosby show. 

Grace was greater today and I am thankful and ready to praise its Giver...tomorrow.

"I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!" Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem! Jerusalem--built as a city that is bound firmly together, to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! "May they be secure who love you! 7 Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!"  For my brothers and companions' sake I will say, "Peace be within you!"  For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good."

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