Earlier this week, I taught a confirmation class at the prison where I volunteer. It was my second time teaching this class. My first session was on the Creeds and the Baptismal Covenant. This week’s session was on my favorite–the Eucharist–liturgy and the Book of Common Prayer and how it all comes together.
The funny thing about volunteering in a prision is you learn how little control you have over anything. A few weeks ago, my pal H and I stood in the rain, literally, for close to 45 minutes, waiting to get escorted from the up-at-the-top-of-the-hill gate to the bottom-of-the-hill gate. We stood and waited, wondering if the ladies would be there when we arrived or if they’d head back to their dorms after almost an hour of waiting. Turns out, they could see us, though we didn’t know it at the time, and so they waited. It was a gift to gather in the cold airconditioned building, sharing stories and laughing at how ridiculous we looked, with our hair and our copies of The Book of Common Prayer soaking wet.
This week they were late. Not uncommon. And nothing they can control. They too, even more than we, are at the mercy of a schedule dicated for them. And so, when we finally gathered, there were stories shared, but we had precious little time and I found myself poorly pacing what time we did, spending entirely too much time on the daily office lectionary, of all things.
Later that night, we did an Instructed Eucharist, a service that helps explain the liturgy and invites questions in real time, interupting the normal flow to allow for learning and ideas. But this too started late, and I felt rushed. I realized, with complete frustration, how many churchy words are part of my venacular and how utterly unskilled I am at translation. I was clumsy with this book and liturgy I so love. I felt as if I had fallen short of the honor that had been given me, when asked to teach and give this offering.
And yet, God still showed up, as God tends to do. I felt it, in these little moments of laughter and in the breaking and sharing of the bread. I felt it in the stories I heard, stories that soften my hard heart, stories that remind me of our connectedness to each other.
God is funny. And God has a wicked sense of humor, moving through imperfection and broken time-frames, dashed expectations and gates locked in pouring rain. God shows up, and in glimpses I can see, God working with this holy cachophy of chaos and imperfection. Because in the mess, and muck, and unknown, in the plans gone wrong and the schedule derailed, in the self-doubt and loss of control, there is space for something new, something that can never be controlled or contained by human will. In this strange and sometimes uncomfortable space, God creates. And what God creates, is always good. What God creates, always tranforms. What God creates, is often strange and holy and wonderful. Just like us.