did you know that starbucks is open on christmas day? not all of them, but the one in lakeview on broadway is. i overheard them today talking about it. the store is decked out in christmas array. and christmas music starts on monday. there are (according to what i overheard) 3 different versions of rudolph the red nose reindeer, 4 different versions of jingle bells (or some other number that is equally popular) and perhaps some rendition of the little drummer boy (that song makes me wretch).
my bff works at starbucks and i’m pretty sure he’s off on christmas day (i hope so as i’m planning to have him over after church). but nonetheless, it occurs to me that we have no real concept sabbath rest in our culture. sabbath is so essential in both the jewish and christian culture, faith and life. has america lost this notion? perhaps we used to–perhaps when religious life was more the norm.
the light at walgreens flashes “we’re open all day on thanksgiving” as does the sign at the jewel and at starbucks. so we pay these underpaid workers time and a half to give up being with family and friends. and for some people, the holidays mean nothing so why not work. but what concerns me is that we have lost the notion of sabbath (if we ever had it). we are so busy doing that we forget how to just be.
and then there’s the fact that its not even thanksgiving and we’re decorated for christmas. egad. but, if i’m honest, i love the holiday lights and colours. i know, i know, i’m supposed to keep the seasons of advent and christmas separate. and in church i do. we sing advent hymns, i preach advent themes. but at home–well–the tree goes up and my house becomes a holiday explosion. please don’t call the advent police!
in my last apartment, i had a wonderful sunroom. it was my favorite thing about the apartment. the problem was that it overlooked the courtyard shared by all the apartments, which meant that we were all basically staring at each other except at odd hours of the day when all the students were in class or asleep. but my writing nook was in that room–my purple chair, bought for me when i was a baby, by my grandmother, my ottoman that i bought on a street corner in new york and a pot of tea made in the teapot my father gave me for christmas. my father remembers very few details about my life (he once forgot my middle name), and that he remembers consistantly that i love tea and teapots always makes me happy. anyway…sermon writing often happened in that spot in the sunroom at 4:00am, when all the world was asleep but me and the holy spirit.
from june until october, i lived in transition–all my belongings in storage, house sitting for a friend. sermon writing was different because i didn’t have that room, that space. although i had a huge house to myself, there was no nook, no ottoman, no teapot. it was, in short, not my room.
my living room is pretty much unpacked at this point (it’s taken me forever and a day to get unpacked and it’s still happening, but that’s another post). i’ve found the teapot and the chair and the ottoman. but i’ve changed it up some. the chair in which i sit has changed and i no longer need the ottoman. there is no sunroom–just a row of window and silver sage paint on the walls. but the room is mine. i look out on the wet chicago street, lined with trees where leaves are turning from green to yellow, and am grateful to be home.
The boiler is being tweeked. We bought a new boiler, but tried to recycle the pump and that didn’t work, so it’s cold in here. To boot, the radiator just exploded (not really) and now there’s water all over the parish hall floor. I remember back when I first entered the discernment process for the preisthood and my rector said: “great! You want to be a priest. First, go to Athens Tech and learn how to be a plumber.” I get it now. Contrary to what so many think, I don’t sit around praying all day in my office–I call contractors, I empty trash, I make dinner for the Inquirer’s Class and I brew coffee (okay, you knew I did that already). Thank God there was no camera the other day when organist and I were standing in the bathroom with plunger in hand, both of us debating whether it was worthy of a call to E-Z plumbing (turns out it was). If it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m really not. I am, in all honesty, somewhat overwhelmed by the size,breadth and requirements of this building, but somehow it all comes together (in large part due to the junior warden, organist and sacristan). Perhaps, more than anything, I am aware of the commitment others have made to this place, to have it run, to help it be what it is. I know that I am far from alone. Community in the midst of toilet plungers. Who’dve thought it? Not me, but I’m glad its there.