Thursday, May 3, 2007

Bells and whistles

This morning, as I got ready for work, I heard a church bell ringing out the time at 7:00. It was the first time I've heard it before, and I've lived in this house and this part of town for more than four years now. And I'm always up at that time every day, except for occasional weekends when R. sleeps late. It made me wonder: How many times have I missed hearing it before? And, what other things am I missing?

It made me think about how many times God may have been trying to show or tell me something when I've missed it. I'm sure it's a lot. The times I have noticed - the messages have been powerful, yet subtle.

Just this past Sunday I heard him talking to me. It was the first time when I've woken up and really didn't feel like going to church (in the 7 months I've been going regularly). I felt sad, and tired of going to church by myself. I was being down on myself for being quiet and not the kind of person who can easily make friends and conversation. I felt really alone. Like no one would even notice if I didn't show up to church since I don't really know anyone there yet. And, I was torn about going to the "Holy Conversations" thing in the afternoon that I had signed up for because it meant time away from R. So I wasn't in the best mood.

I couldn't pay attention during the sermon, and the hymns were mostly unfamiliar. So I wasn't getting a lot of comfort from the service. Tears came to my eyes when I was walking up to the altar for communion. But then, the first thing happened. Here I was feeling sorry for myself when I noticed a woman across the way who looked about as down as I did. She comes every week, too, mostly by herself. Once in awhile, her children and husband come with her. And who knows? Maybe she wasn't sad and maybe she isn't bothered by coming by herself most weeks, but it got me out of my funk for a few minutes thinking that just possibly someone else there felt like I did that morning.

When the service was over, I was still feeling down, though, and pulled on my jacket and started heading out. I was walking toward the exit when I heard someone say, "Kris!" I turned around, and there was the very nice couple who I met on my first visit to St. Paul's. The woman asked if I had had a nice visit with my mom. (I had introduced them to my mom the week before when she came with me to church.) We chatted for a minute, and then I just said, "Thank you!" before heading out again. I know it's not a burning bush kind of sign (or neon sign like Tourette's Mom's), but it worked for me. I am so thankful for those little signs where God reminds me that I mean something. I even told A. about it when I got home, and he was touched.

I wonder if I'd even notice a big sign if God gave me one. Maybe there have been times when he's been on the side of the road or sitting across from me on the T or standing beside my bed, waving his arms around, and yelling, "Hey, Kristen!!! Look over here! Listen to what I'm trying to tell you! Don't date that guy/don't drive so fast/put down the ice cream/listen to your mother/you can't afford that/keep your mouth shut/etc.! Helllooooooo!" It makes me laugh to think about that, partly because I imagine God getting frustrated and exasperated with my inattention and storming off to go back to the drawing board to figure out how to reach me, all of which means that he loves me. :-)


Today was a beautiful day here - another in the high 60s with sunshine and puffy clouds and loveliness. R. and A. had a great day together - they visited three different playgrounds! And my day at work was pretty good, too - in that it wasn't extremely stressful and I actually got something done.

I've been reading a book I bought by Barbara Brown Taylor - Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith, which I'm really enjoying. After that, I've got another book by Sue Monk Kidd waiting for me.

This weekend, I'm going to work on getting some more pictures up here!


Wanda said...

Hi Kristen: I've been out of town, and didn't have all my "favorites" on my hubby's laptop, so got behind.
Just read your post and loved it. So glad that bell rang. So glad you got that affirmation you needed at church.
I loving you and saying prayers for your continued walk in the faith.

NoVA Dad said...

I ran across your blog while searching for some comments about Barbara Brown Taylor, and have really enjoyed reading it. TI think you will really enjoy "Leaving Church" (if you haven't already finished it); it was the first BBT book that I had read, and I did a review of it on my blog last year ( It really is an amazing book, and I have since enjoyed further exploring her work. I am currently working my way through the discernment process which may end up in some aspect of the ministry, and BBT’s story is certainly something that I will carry with me for quite a while. I hope you find/found it to be a great read!!

NoVA Dad said...

I forgot to add that I like what amounts to a devotion about how God is whispering to you throughout your life. Frederick Buechner (another one of my favorite writers/ministers) writes a lot about how the Holy Spirit is a thread that continuously winds its way through your life, and when we examine our lives closely we can see the Spirit at work. Sounds like while reflecting on the other lady at church and the couple who greeted you, you've seen the Spirit in your life!

I'm going to link to your blog, if that's alright. I'd love to read more about your journey.