OT: Thank G-d for small favors…

HUGE day for me (and for the whole of the Obscurae really) this past Sunday.  After 18 months, my church successfully voted in a new pastor. (In the UCC, we make an offer…the candidate accepts it contingent upon congregational vote, so it really was in our hands)  Not a moment too soon as far as I’m concerned.  I love this church…I was raised in it…my mom was raised in it…my kids have been raised in it, but the past year, especially the last month, has tested my mettle, as the lay leadership (Lay leader?  Me?!  Yeah, I have no idea how the H#$L that happened either!!) has been called to do more and more. I was seriously close to being “churched out.”  I realized last Thursday – at the beginning of a monster weekend of activities – that the only time I have vertigo attacks anymore is when I’m at church or discussing church business.  Yeah…not good.

I met our new Pastor at about 8:30, with a G in my right hand and an F# in my left as he lead the chime choir in prayer before our performance.  I met him again at 8:40 when I hooked him up to the lapel mike and requested that he turn it off when he wasn’t actively speaking since it piggy backs on the audio port for any computer generated music.  Then we connected again at 9:06 when I handed him a handheld mike after said lapel mike sent up a horrendous cacophony when he switched it on…I am co-chair of the technology team.  When he officially begins in November, I imagine I’ll also “meet” him again as the Director of the K-6th Grade and 7-12th Grade youth group.

I’ve been “wearing so many hats.”   I’m tired, and I’ve begun to actively resent the time I spend…so has my family.  My commitment to service hasn’t wavered, but I was practically wriggling at the vote and the inspiration and rejuvenation that a charismatic new leader could bring to this place I care about so much.  It was like a load had been lifted from my shoulders.

That lightness has continued into the week…with hope for the future, I’ve finally found some time to launch into some seasonal “porch-scaping”

Needs more pumpkins...

Needs more pumpkins…

Halloween is certainly not the most sacred of holidays, but for me it marks a seasonal transition…a precursor for a season that is around the corner.  For the first time in a long time, I’m really looking forward to it.

“Let me get that for you…” : SpReAd the Love Update

Long time no update!  Sorry for the silence.  The end of the academic year is fast approaching which means that Prof. Obscura is in overdrive answering last minute student questions and grading.  Everything else is pushed to the side.  Well, almost everything else.

Every so often, my mother enlists me to help her with an ecumenical church women’s group that she belongs to, and these events always seems to come at  fairly inopportune moments.   At the meeting last Friday, however, I met a remarkable person.  The speaker for the day was the director of local warming shelter for the homeless…a place that offers a warm place to sleep for 50-60 people who might not be accepted elsewhere.  He gave a very moving talk, and answered many interesting questions, but my remarkable person was yet to come.  The remarkable person I met was being honored by her peers with the group’s Valiant Woman Award…an award given to a woman who “who has given service to her local chapter, her church and her community…a woman who lives the Gospel message in her everyday life.”

The woman being honored slowly rose from her seat and limped to the front of the room, clearly surprised.  I watched the woman’s composure begin to slip and tears welled up in my eyes as I listened to the following words describing her:

M. has been a member of her local church since childhood, where she was confirmed.  M. has served her church faithfully through the years on a variety of committees including several terms as the congregational President and the church secretary as well as more than 20 years teaching seventh and eighth grade Sunday School classes and volunteering for the annual vacation bible school program.  She is currently an active member of the Dorcas and Phoebe Ministry groups, the Worship Design team, the secretary for the Music Committee and a Co-President of the Women’s Guild. 

M. has also worked tirelessly as a member of her local  and state Church Women United Unit.  She has served terms as the Co-President and Secretary.  She has also been very active recruiting members from her home church to join CWU, hosting CWU functions and leading multiple worship programs. 

In the context of her Christian journey with her local church and CWU, M. has been an active force for mission and evangelism work in the wider community of Wisconsin and beyond.  In addition to a wide variety of activities over the years, recently, she has worked as a volunteer at the local homeless shelter, collected supplies for the domestic abuse shelter and coordinated the Church World Service Blanket Sunday initiative to collect monies and blankets for the needy both here and abroad. 

Despite many health challenges that often make it difficult and painful for her to be physically active, M. always exhibits a level of commitment and dedication to Christian leadership that is inspiring to those around her.

These words were very familiar to me.  You see, I had written them several weeks earlier when the local chapter of CWU asked me to submit a biography for the woman they wanted to honor with a Valiant Woman Award.  They didn’t ask me because of my skill as a writer, but because I had the biographical information that they needed.  I had that information because M. is my mother.

My mother has always been a integral part of my life…first as the mother of the girl I was, and now also as my confidant and my friend.  But,  it wasn’t until I sat down to write that biography that I fully “met” this side of my mother.  I realize as I go back through it now, that I have probably listed only about half of the charitable, mission and other volunteer work that my mother engages on a regular basis.  It’s not something that she does for recognition, it is something that is an instinctive part of her.  Despite the fact that she has a myriad of health issues, she digs down into some deep reserve tank to continue pushing on to support the causes that she is committed to.

I’ve also realize that this remarkable person, my mom,  has left an indelible impression on my life.  She has set an example of spreading love and kindness that I can only hope to model and to impress upon my own children.   My mother SpReAds the Love every day of her life, and I only hope that I can reach the bar that she has set for me.

As it happens, a bar reaching opportunity arose the very next day.  I was grocery shopping  at one of those supermarkets that I am sure has a ground plan the size of a airplane hanger.  It’s monstrous, but they have really good produce, and a ton of specialty items I can’t find anywhere else in my area.    I was about a third of the way through the store…in the pickle, olive and salad dressing aisle… when I saw someone who was in need of a bit of assistance.


In front of me was a toddler sitting in the seat of a shopping cart watching as his very petite and very pregnant mother contemplated climbing up onto the shelf in front of her to reach an item.  I could see that the top shelf had an empty spot, but what I couldn’t see was the one remaining bottle of Thousand Island dressing that was all the way at the back of the shelf.   Just as she was moving to step up and try to reach it I walked up and said, “Let me get that for you.”   I handed the bottle to her and smiled saying, “It’s no problem,” as she thanked me profusely.  It really was no problem to Spread the Love to someone who needed a hand.  I like to think that the young mom went on her way to SpReAd the Love along further and so on.

Thanks for giving me a head start Mom!