One of the things I’ve always loved to do is sing. I sing in a band on occasion, which is a total rush, but I got my start in church choirs. When I first moved here, I sang with a local church, but my attendance petered out a few years ago. I was traveling a ton for work, and seeing my family out East a couple times a month, and had an illness that would not go away – so I put the brakes on church so I could rest on Sundays. Gah, that sounds weak…but sometimes, something has to give. And that’s simply what gave out at the time.
So, since I’m trying to get healthier overall, I thought going back to church would help. It’s like exercise, in a way. Dragging myself out of bed takes a Herculean effort, and when it’s dark and cold and the bed is soft and warm and I’m sleepy I JUST DON’T WANNA. <whine> But once I get up and get to it, I feel so much better.
I’ve been rehearsing with the choir once a week, and got to sing with them this morning. The sermon was good, as it usually is, but today’s Children’s Message actually got me thinking after I left the four walls of the church.
(A lot of churches have messages targeted to kids before the actual “adult” sermon. The Children’s Message is a short message, typically with props to keep it entertaining, and invariably one kid wanders off and spills the Communion juice or pulls his pants down or does something that makes you laugh – and makes you thankful that it wasn’t YOUR kid, this time. After the message, the kids typically get chased down to the basement so the adults can stick around and really focus on the full sermon without worrying if darling little Brittney has enough crayons and animal crackers to keep her still until 11 AM.)
Today the Children’s Message featured flowers. As the leader talked, she handed out flowers one at a time to all the kids. Red and yellow roses, white lilies, pink carnations, magenta Gerber daisies. The message was about Esther. Essentially, Esther gets picked out of a whole gaggle of really pretty girls to be queen. Sounds like it was a year-long beauty contest of sorts – they had a year just to make themselves look good (Extreme Makeover, Egyptian Year-Long Edition.)
Anyway – Esther’s Jewish, and one of the bad guys ordered all the Jews to be killed. Esther has the opportunity as queen to bend the king’s ear and convince him that this isn’t such a good idea. (Which was no easy feat, because normally if you approached the king without being invited, he had you killed, even if you were totally hot and queen to boot. So it was kind of a big deal.)
The leader, after telling this story, showed all of the kids a dead rose. It had blackened and withered, and the bud drooped lifelessly on its stem. She reminded them that no matter what the kids did – no matter how careful they were, how much water they used, or how much pizza they gave it – in a couple of weeks, that pretty, pretty flower they were holding would look much like the one she was holding. As one of the children put it, “It goes rotten!”
Hmm. It goes rotten.
I worry (or re-center my worry) so, so much on what I eat, and how what I eat manifests itself in unwanted places on my body. I’ve exhausted myself worrying about the bulges in my stomach and the width of my saddlebags. I spend more time than I’d like to admit putting on this face cream and coloring this gray hair and trying to blend in that wrinkle and these under-eye bags….
Don’t I have more to offer this world? SHOULDN’T I offer more? Why is so much of my focus on something so meaningless and fruitless to preserve?
The pastor, in the adult version of the sermon, talked about “finding your voice.” She specifically talked about the fate of women in many parts of the world – being no more than property, trinkets for trafficking, having no opportunities for education – and encouraged us to DO something. Get involved, make a difference, at the very least raise your sons and daughters to CARE.
What’s my voice?
So often (between days of beating myself up over eating YET ANOTHER effing bag of kettle corn) I find myself wondering what the point is to my life. I exist. I get up, I work, I come home. Why bother? So much work, and eventually I’ll die anyway, right?
I’ve come to realize recently that this is a very selfish viewpoint, and maybe I should try looking at this from a different angle. Why am I thinking that the world owes me a life? Shouldn’t I instead be looking at how I can work to make the world better somehow? Instead of wondering why life isn’t particularly meaningful, I should go out and MAKE it meaningful.
In other words – what can I do for this world?
There are things I can do. I can volunteer. I can control my anger and biting sarcasm. I can treat people with kindness.
I did donate to a couple of charities recently, and I know of some volunteer opportunities locally. I certainly can extend small kindnesses (especially when I’m driving, ha ha) and I can be a better friend, wife, and mom by being more engaged and mindful with my family.
I don’t have any big, lofty goals around this right now, other than to recognize that “just existing” isn’t enough – nor is it the point. My focus should be on what I can do to make the other flowers here bloom as big and bright as possible.
How can you help someone bloom today? How can you plant the flowers that make the world more beautiful?