The group dropped to five in number. Every week, five. Five, five, five. For months we were five. Then, I don't know, suddenly more women came, and then there were a dozen. Consistently a dozen. And lately, it's fifteen to twenty. We've had to move to a larger space. A happy problem.
We studied every woman we could find in the Old Testament, and then moved on to the New. We did some other studies, not all of which I can remember. I know that one of my favorites was four women Saints--all Doctors of the Church: Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Sienna, Therese of Lisieux, and Hildegard of Bingen.
Last fall, we started the Gospel of Matthew. I remember thinking (at the time). . .this will put us right about the Passion during Lent, and the Resurrection at Easter. But the past few months we've gone deep. Deep takes time. Deep also builds community. We just finished Chapter 12 this morning: Jesus was telling the Pharisees that the only sign they could expect would be the sign of Jonah. In other words, plunging to the depths, and into the belly of the whale. All of this necessary death before Resurrection occurs. . .the stripping away, the waiting in the dark, having life as you've known it taken apart and put back together in a whole new way.
I reflected later on the women in that room who are now experiencing that very thing. One became a widow on New Years Eve, after 63 years of marriage. A lifetime. Another suffers such debilitating nerve damage in her cheek, just looking at her almost causes her to flinch. Each of us is, or has been in some way or other, through that dark time of waiting for light. Even so, when we're together, we laugh so much that we have to close doors so the staff down the hall can concentrate on their work. That's what community will do.
As soon as Bible study ends, I go over to the Oreon E. Scott Chapel (see photo, above) on the Drake University Campus. Inside that tiny circular chapel (it seats 20), a small group gathers for meditation with Tibetan Singing Bowls. There are only four or five of us, sometimes a few more. Once, I was the only one present besides Ted, the campus minister who plays the bowls.
Lately, we've all been having lunch together afterwards. Or maybe they've been doing that for a while, and I've just recently joined in. We call ourselves "Four Introverts Have Coffee at Mars Cafe."
Wednesday is my longest work day, because I'm there in the evenings for the kids' programs. I get home around 8:30 or 9:00 p.m.
I go home for a short break at 3:00, and then go back in time for classes. Catechists and other volunteers, the choir members, families and kids all come rolling in, and the place comes to life.
On this, the first warm spring evening, some of our classes moved outdoors. The Eighth Graders were cleaning up the grounds as a service project. The Kindergarten class sat in a circle on the lawn with little cups of soil, in which they planted seeds. They were talking about how the seed has to die before it can sprout and grow. A Seventh Grade class was playing Bible Bocce Ball, and some Fourth Graders were running around playing Jesus Tag. I asked them the rules, and they said, "Jesus is IT, and he has to catch all the disciples." (Okay. . .I think that's been going on for a while!)
It's joy and it's chaos and noise and great fun. It's also holy. And I like to tease the office staff, who always turn over the OPEN sign when they leave for the day. No, I tell them. This place is more OPEN on Wednesday evenings than it is at any other time!
Because here, in the middle of the week, at the start of the day, some of us pause together. We take time to get in touch on a deeper level, with God and with each other. It's Heaven.
And because here, in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day, some of us pause together. We take time to get in touch on a deeper level, with God and with each other. It's Heaven.