This week I have a six-hour Thanksgiving trip (one-way) in a van with three kids and my mom on a journey to see family in Georgia. Part of me is excited, and another, larger part, is exhausted even though I haven’t left yet. As a single mom, there’s no reading in the passenger seat anymore or passing the kids off to Dad.
Kids hungry? I feed them.
Need help packing? That would be me.
What, now they’re fighting? Well - may the best child win.
God somehow knows my breaking points. He put this book, “God Never Blinks” in my path, which I bought on a whim and found myself loving the simple wisdom of journalist Regina Brett. Her first chapter is about a house painter who lives by two simple words: Get to.
So instead of dreading the ‘have to’ dos, it’s the ‘get to’ dos. I get to have my children for the holidays. I get to enjoy meals and fellowship. I get to drive them to an extended family holiday celebration. I get to witness their lives. It’s a subtle shift – but oh so powerful. I think, how did I get so blessed? Aren’t I a lucky gal to be at work admiring this cheery crayon drawing on my wall by my youngest child who already is learning life isn’t always fair, but that it's so much better with a grateful heart.
The week before Thanksgiving, we always have a holiday meal and communion service at church. This year we had an especially large crowd, and we needed all hands on deck to get everything ready. I saw one of our ministers preparing the communion table at the front of the sanctuary. "Is there anything I can do to help, Woody?" I asked. In exasperation, he replied, "Yeah, could you get these cups to stop leaking?" We were using the inexpensive paper cups that we often have for potluck supper beverages, and I could see rings on the glass table top where grape juice was seeping through the seams of several cups. I helped Woody replace the leaky cups, and prepare the bread rolls and smaller plastic cups that would allow us to do communion "family style" around our individual tables. But I couldn't stop thinking about the leaky cups.
What was in those cups? Yes, it's grape juice at Providence, like at most other Baptist churches. In some Catholic and Protestant congregations, it's wine. But I believe it's more than that. Whether or not I can subscribe to transubstantiation -- the idea that the consecrated wine or juice actually becomes the blood of Christ -- there's no denying the powerful symbolism of the liquid in that cup. With it, we remember the suffering of God's Son and his ultimate triumph over death. In that cup is compassion -- literally "suffering with," which is what God did for us through Christ. In that cup is hope that the darkest moment in the story is not the end. In that cup is love too strong to stay dead. It's no wonder the cups were leaking. Such things cannot be contained. They will find their way to where they are needed. In messy and surprising ways, they will come to us.
Out in Africa. She'll be back soon.