Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Insert Meaning Here

Sitting in church this Sunday, I knew something that most everyone else didn't know. So, when the sermon was about change, and dealing with change...I'm sure a good percentage of the group assembled there settled into their "listening" setting - partial attention, while you kind of plot out the rest of the day. I wonder if I RSVP'ed that party?

Change, and dealing with change. The Church year changes, life changes. We have to be ready for the change, my father said.

If only they knew it was my father's last sermon. And that change was coming, and they better be ready. A vacancy, a new pastor, a new shepherd.

I'm not writing to warn us all about being more attentive. I don't know if we could. I am just noticing that meaning is actually applied by us. My dad isn't the first retiree, or the last. His cancer is rare, but he's not the only one to have it. His career was stellar and received all kinds of recognition. But a lot of careers do.

And if you asked some people at church that Sunday, his career was too long, and not stellar enough. They had inserted their own meaning into his career.

We apply the meaning. How much did he touch you? Your parents? How many hands did he hold that went lifeless? How many eternal bonds of love did he help to forge? How many drunks did he counsel? How many times did he arrive at the scene of an accident before the EMT's? How many people at the mental health center consider him to be the only Jesus they know?

There's a story about one of Dad's confirmands from his old parish in Indiana who, some twenty years later, was lying on his deathbed. What can we get you? His parents asked. Pastor Bat, the man told them. So they called Pastor Bat.

He means something to some. He means a lot to many of us.

My Zoe isn't the only survivor of Trisomy 18 - although a ridiculous rarity. If God takes her, she won't be the only tragic little one called Home.

But we apply the meaning. How much did she change me? Teach me about the value of this moment, this day? Did Zoe help you stop and listen to your kid tell you about their day? What does the toothless smile you see up there mean? Maybe it means that fighters come in all shapes in sizes, and Zoe probably didn't want to wake up and fight today either. But she did, and she found some joy in it.

Zoe surprised the speech therapist today. I should create a template for use and reuse that begins "Zoe surprised _____" Today it was the therapist. What the therapist knew about Trisomy was that Zoe wasn't going to be able to communicate well or at all.

Trouble is, Zoe inserts her own meaning. She tries each night to talk to me, contorting her face so intently her eyes cross. She makes shards of sounds, gasps, clicks. She's got something to say. She means it.

I can't possibly end by giving you a trite thought of applying meaning to what you thought meaningless...even though that guy who cut you off was rushing away from getting fired. Even though that dollar you didn't give in offering was for a family struggling to pay their medical bills.

I guess all I'm offering is that if you took a moment, you'd find beauty in a moment. If you let it, the meaning might become clear. And if let God meet you where you are, that intersection, that point, that place becomes holy and meaningful. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Don't get caught missing the meaning.


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