Thursday, December 07, 2006

Annointed and Alert. Warning: May contain the Occasional Churchy Word

I have the incredible privelege of having teachers in my life. Real people who I am lucky enough to call friends, who speak words of wisdom and life into my heart and my mind.

Recently the image of "snap-shots" has been playing in my mind. It's not an original thought, I'm quite sure, but its profundity impacts me. Life is a series of pictures, moments frozen in time, never to be rewound. Its as beautiful as it is bizarre. I walked past a woman nursing her infant the other day, and I realized with a sort of jarring sensation that it was a snapshot. Not long ago, I was nursing babies nearly every other year. That's over now. I don't pine for it, but I'm aware of its time and place in my life, and the profound meaning that it had, and that it has as one of those snapshots in my mind.

It struck me recently that I am a snap-shot. For some people, I will be "the daycare lady". Or, "the lady who shaved her head", or "the lady who could sew me anything I asked for" (my friend's daughter once pointed to a pair of shoes on a McCall's pattern and asked me to make them for her.... ). I began to feel a weighty sense of responsibility at the thought of taking up space in someone's mental photo album. What if I missed some oppurtunity when someone was hurting, and "daycare lady" was busy and distracted with snacks, or poo, or really wanting a shower, and missed that moment? What if I got so preoccupied with enjoying myself telling stories of head-shavings, or shot glass smashings that the quiet, sad member of the listening end got drowned out by my silliness?

What if I don't notice?

This played on the edges of my mind as I headed into the Christmas Tea at church this evening. One of the afore-mentioned wise women spoke up about her desire and concern for this Christmas season. Being the pastor's wife (and not one of those stuffy, churchy, over-smiled, under-sexed, lying, overly positive types), she mentioned the additional strain at holiday times where people's loneliness, neediness, and related issues often rise to the surface. Everyone knows that Christmas time is a brutally depressing time for many people who've suffered loss or disappointment in their relationships, in their families, in their faith, in their life. Being in the pastorate no doubt makes one hyper-aware of these situations and must carry with it a huge sense of responsibility and concern.

I recognized how many snapshots they must be in. I waited to see what she would say.

"Pray that we will be annointed and alert". Is what she said.
I nearly jumped out of my chair in excitement. That's it! The perfect antidote to being all things to all people! This is why I'm so relieved that I celebrate a God with amazing interpersonal skills. He'll set up the appointments. He'll even coach regarding what to say.

For those of you who've grown accustomed to a more numerically structured blog (thanks, Brian), it goes like this:
1. Move about as you were, the snapshots are normal.
2. Listen to that still, small voice. (Otherwise known as God, or Holy Spirit)
(This is particularily effective if you've asked to be alert, and annointed. That way, it takes off ALL the pressure to be brilliant, and its really God, and not YOU, and so you don't have to exhaust yourself later re-evaluating everything you said, or didn't say).

I want this genuine and authentic desire to colour the picture that's sure to form in the memory of a sweet child who comes to my home for daycare. I have a heavy heart for her, and yet often find myself distracted and often unattentive during her visits as they occur during INSANE-OH hour. (7:15 to 8:30 am). I am feeding, brushing, signing, wiping, sweeping, packing, and sometimes grumbling during that particular hour of the workday. I need to do all of those things. It would be weird, inappropriate, and just plain hunger-inducing if I were to drop all that manic activity in favour of sitting with children, holding their hands, gazing into their eyes, and telling them how deeply I care about their deepest needs and fears.

BUT. If I am simply annointed (a churchy word, sorry about that. It just means filled with God's spirit.) , and alert, then the moments will come up, will be recognized, will be orchestrated, and all I gotta do is show up.

That much I can do.


Anonymous said...

Thanks I needed that today. I woke up inexplicably depressed - I wanted to stay in bed all day...

that isn't me

this redirected me and that is good you are also the lady with the 'saggy-old-woman picture on-her-blog' and the 'lady who-is-honest-about-her-life on her blog'

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post.





I needed it, too.

Judy - Anybody Home

it's a gong show... said...

If you don't win some sort of award for your blogging then I don't know nailed it this time Joyce!!

Soooo glad you are back!


it's a gong show... said...

My last comment just wasn't enough today. You are an inspiration! I hope that we all can be annointed and alert and just BE.


joyce said...

speaking of snapshots, check out this amazing blog. This woman has the most beautiful photography.
If that's too much work, then just click on "me" at the top of this comment section. The post of which I speak is second on the blog.

Anonymous said...

That's the message that I may cling to this advent season. Thanks.
Very timely since I'll be the "pastor's wife" at a funeral today. I am also a friend and neighbour at the funeral, but those who don't know me will only see me as The Wife. I'll pray and then just show up.
BTW, I'm really keen on the Holy Spirit. I connect to that aspect of God's way of working in the world.
Awesome post Joyce! I missed you!

Heather Plett said...

Another beautiful post Joyce. I think this one should be published in a magazine somewhere so even more people can be blessed by it.

esther said...

i've be blessed by you today - thank you.

Anonymous said...

yeah! you speak truth!
carpe diam sister - dive in with all your heart.

andrea said...

The last thing I want to do is take away from such a thoughtful and spiritual post but I had to tell you that I had the very same snapshot sensation this morning that you had seeing the nursing mother. Dare I say how it happened? I asked my husband whether he was a toilet paper 'scruncher' or 'folder'. I'm a scruncher (he's a folder) but I was taught to be a folder and it's plagued me all my days (guilt at being such an impatient person and guilt at disobeying my mother *again*). Then it occurred to me that it's been so long since I wiped a small bottom that I couldn't remember what I'd taught them! Snapshot.

I know -- always the deep, insightful one, aren't I?

Anonymous said...

YOU GET IT. I want to surround myself with people who get it. I have spent my whole life missing the point. And when I read your post, my heart starts shaking b/c you just crystallized what it means to be a Christ-follower. That is the whole of it..not dressed up or down. It's grass-roots, not institutionalized faith that grows God's kingdom. Thank you for using your talents and not burying them. God bless you, Joyce.

joyce said...

thanks for that big hard lumpy thingy in my throat just now, Joanne. And I really mean that. We both know from whence we came-- a wonderful and rich place, but often so fraught with fear and guilt.
(and wouldn't you know it, today has not been a banner daycare day. I'd just REALLY like to be left alone today. I am SO NOT alert today, maybe because I stayed up til 12:30 last night waxing poetic about its theory last night!!) Thank goodness for grace and forgiveness.

Anonymous said...

What an inspiring person you are. I read this yesterday at work and wanted to reply from home so I am a day late, but your words are just as true today as yesterday. And I love your honesty. God speaks through your words whether you are revealing concerns over flaws, or family dynamics or joys and sorrows. I am so glad to be one of your readers - and glad to have you back.