I Once Was Lost…But Now…

Deacon Greg pointed me towards this hysterical story today on Facebook.

As a guitarist, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in the back country. As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost.

I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch.

I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play.

The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless man.

And as I played ‘Amazing Grace,’ the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished I packed up my guitar and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full.

As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I never seen nothin’ like that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”

Apparently, I’m still lost…

OK that could totally happen to me.

But I began to think about this more deeply. That man played his heart out and really offered all of himself for a man he never met. The diggers were moved, perhaps because nobody ever really notices who they are. They provide a valuable service but digging septic tanks isn’t exactly a glamorous job.

And our friend here noticed them and their work, at least in the minds of the diggers.

To add to this, our musician has the great ability to laugh at himself. He doesn’t beat himself up about it, instead turning it into a beautiful story that goes awry.

That’s probably the best version of himself.

Saints are often people who do simple things in extraordinary ways. They prod us to become all that we are and to have a great appreciation for life. And they laugh. They remind us to not take life too seriously but to bring joy to others when we can.

Where did our musician not bring joy? Maybe the funeral director might be annoyed with him because of his tardiness, but even the man he was supposed to play for can appreciate his song, even in the wrong spot.

Intention is always key. Our friend here intended to bring joy to a man who had nobody to even bury him. And instead, even his fault of lateness, can be turned into moments of joy for so many, including now us who read his words.

Today, let us ask ourselves how we might offer just a bit more joy to others, even in the midst of our own weaker moments. Amid tough weeks and difficult ventures, we need to take time to laugh at ourselves.

And when we do, we find deeper experiences of God…who stands there with us laughing.

Are There Any Questions?

So my best friend’s daughter started religious education this past week and thus, there was the mandatory information session for families of children in religious education (or lifelong faith formation or whatever they want you to call this in your local diocese).

So off the family went, my friend and his lovely wife, his daughter, Theresa and his 3 year old son, Leo. The pastor began with an explanation of the formation program and exhaustively went through every detail.

Finally at the end of his presentation he paused and asked, “Are there any questions?”

Leo, the aforementioned 3 year old, who is not even in religious education yet, shot up his hand. The pastor, not one to ignore a child, acknowledged him, to which he asked the question on everyone’s mind…

“Do you have any popsicles?”

The kid gets it. It’s not a Catholic event if there aren’t any snacks.

When This Little Light of Mine Didn’t Shine…

So I love the blog Peacebang, who is everyone’s favorite Unitarian. She’s creative and hysterically funny. She must also know that I have a penchant for recalling the times in church when things just go horribly wrong–especially on major holidays.

Like at our 10AM Christmas Day Mass this year when someone projectile vomited in the back of the church. Merry Christmas, everybody.

Or at my parent’s parish when the pastor put too much lighter fluid on the kindling for the Easter fire and singed an older woman’s beehive hairdo. “Oh my hair!” was her cry. She was fine.

But Peacebang, AKA, the Rev Victoria Weinstein, a Unitarian Minister, takes the cake with this one that she reported from her friend’s church:

I guess what happened at my friend’s church is that she had worked for years to introduce the concept of The Coming of the Light into their candlelight service where, for decades, they sang “Silent Night” and left in the dark without a benediction or anything. This drove her crazy. “We don’t celebrate the coming in of the light!” she says. So at long last she got the Worship Committee to agree to having a child come forth at a dramatic moment in the service as she says, “And then arrived the Bearer of the Light.”

So last night, she announced this:

“AND THEN ARRIVED THE BEARER OF THE LIGHT”

And no kid.

For long minutes, no kid.

She ad-libbed. “AND THEN CAME JUSTIN, THE BEARER OF THE LIGHT.”

But “Justin” didn’t show up. I mean for 3-4 minutes, just dead air.

What happened behind the scenes is that Justin and his mother couldn’t get the little butane lighter going. They were frantically trying to get the clicker to work, while meanwhile my friend is up in front of the congregation going,

“SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO PATIENTLY AWAIT THE LIGHT”

And she’s having a total nervous breakdown and she’s so upset because right before the service she checked that butane lighter and everything was working FINE.

But you know, Justin’s mother also wanted to check the lighter and light it so many dozens of times making sure it was operational that she burned the thing right out. Those things are eight bucks or something – they don’t have that many lights in them.

So five minutes goes by – the most painful, sweaty five minutes you can imagine for the minister, and she’s still vamping,

“SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO WAIT A VERY LONG TIME FOR THE COMING OF THE LIGHT”

And finally, finally, the kid comes down the aisle with the unlit processional candle and some nice guy on the church staff goes up to my friend and hands her a Bic.

It’s just like, a total bomb of a moment.

But of course my friend says, “It was the WORST. But everyone loved the service. They said it’s the best one we’ve ever had.”

That’s why we love the Church, people.

Indeed. What’s your worst church moment? The time you just bombed as a minister or a congregant. Facebook me with some of yours and maybe we’ll make this a regular feature. I’ve got at least a dozen.