My life is a series of practices for whatever God is unfolding next. So tonight I practiced democracy by attending the local neighborhood association meeting. This afternoon I practiced the art of celebrating life and grieving at a funeral for a guinea pig attended by a handful of neighborhood kiddos. And each week around the table we practice community by sharing with one another over a meal.
Showing up in the local places of decision making and community is the core of our democracy. It’s a place where I always learn so much and where my voice and influence can make a difference in the world. Since we’re serving a new neighborhood now through the Southeast Portland Parish Jeff and I have decided to divide and conquer. So tonight he went to Sellwood and I went to Woodstock. He met the county sheriff and I met our state representative. I learned about a new service opportunity for our community. And we both found ways to get involved in the work of connecting the values of the Southeast Portland Parish to what God is already doing in these neighborhoods.
Yesterday one of our daughter’s guinea pigs died of cancer. She was given to us by dear friends who could no longer keep her due to allergies in their family. She was cared for by several of the kiddos who live near us when we traveled. So when she died there were a number of sad children. And I started planning a funeral for a guinea pig. This afternoon a handful of us made rock art for her grave depicting things we remembered about her or things we hoped for her like lots of carrots. We talked about the things we appreciated about her including that she was an amazing poop machine. Then we prayed together in thanks for the way she brought us together and how loving her made the world a little brighter. Life is going to be full of loss, so to create space for kiddos to practice celebration, gratitude, and sorrow together is a gift that will serve them in the years ahead.
One of our members asked last week if we could make sure that at every meal we took some more intentional time for checkins. She is feeling a need to adjust our community practice so that she can share what is happening in her life and hear more from others about what is going on with them. And of course we’ll try it out and see if it meets her need and the needs of others. Over time we adjust and find new ways to relate to one another. Over the years we’ve added communion and music to our regular practice. We’ve had seasons of more experiential activities at our meals and times when we’ve used videos as the catalyst for conversation. We are always changing as people and so our gatherings shift as we grow and learn.
This work of planning a church is so varied and changing. I love getting to connect to God at work in the community by practicing democracy. I love equipping kiddos with tools for life by practicing celebration in the face of loss. I love adjusting our practice of community so that each person is getting what they need to thrive. None of it is ever the final version. We are always engaged in an ever evolving practice of life where God is molding us and shaping us.