Working my way through the belongings of someone who’s passed on has been an interesting process for me. My parents’ love letters and an unmarried aunt’s marriage license application revealed hidden lives. Among my brother’s belongings was an intriguing book entitled “Charm and Personality.” Written in 1941, it covered rules for a wide variety of social situations.
The chapter on church conduct caught my attention and brought up a stark memory of acute embarrassment at hearing my stomach gurgle while sitting in the Presbyterian pew:
“Conduct in church should always be marked by gravity, dignity and every show of respect. One should never show curiosity or amusement....Do not bow or speak to acquaintances in church. Conversation is not in good taste, but it is permissible to show your neighbor the place in his hymnbook if he seems to be having difficulty. In the lobby of the church it is permissible to bow to acquaintances.”
I’m so glad that these rules don’t apply in our church! How we love to greet each other. We love to laugh and sing and sometimes even call out a good “amen” or “hallelujah” or “say it, sister” or clap to a rhythmic song. Babies cry; people cough. We’re a group of ordinary—and joyful—humans. Just folks.
We’re folks who recognize a deep purpose to our lives together, moving forward after our loss of Joan, supporting and holding each other and opening to Divine guidance. This Lenten season is especially a sacred time for introspection and renewal, for self-examination and repentance, for preparing ourselves for the next turn of events. Let us remind each other to take all the time we need to slow down, heal anything that needs healing, and open to the voice of God.