Phoebe: “I don’t get to sing at school very often.”
Me: “You have choir.”
Phoebe: “Yes, but they don’t like it when I sing during math.”
The children’s program was about to begin when a deacon caught my arm. There was a “situation”. A large man, whose sleeves were tattoos, pulled up in a beat up black spray painted car. He was asking to speak with the pastor.
He of course needed help and told a grand story. But I had seen him before and changed the subject to the last time he came to Chandler. It was years before. He sat at our grand piano – as homeless as could be – and started to play beautifully (I am not sure anyone knew I let him play our piano). This Sunday I took him back to my office and left him on the couch while I figured out how we could help.
It was almost Christmas and I remembered I had gifts ready for the staff. A lot of coffee gifts cards (that I hope they share with me), but one had a QT card. These were piled at the back of the sanctuary to be hand delivered, so I ran there and tore open our Treasurer’s gift. (Later I replaced the card, delivered a bit late.)
As I went I could not get the smell of the man out of my nose. I wondered how long my couch would smell. When I got back he was admiring my office’s artwork. He asked if I would hang up one of his artpieces — if it was as good as his piano playing…
I invited him to stay for worship. But he insisted he needed to be on the road and started to tell another story. His stories of events and past conversations were off the map. He did not remember being at Chandler before — but the way he described his past, I doubt he remembered actually being anywhere. Everything was filtered into his reality.
I walked him out to his car. It was not only spray painted matte black, it literally had bars on the windows. Plus a big dog inside. No one was getting his stuff. Before I could offer to pray for him, he was loudly praying for me. So I just continued the prayer.
As he drove away I walked inside and pondered the man. But really I pondered myself. There are times I do not give hand outs. Others times – like this one – I do. I use my gut, which I hope God is leading and not just my hunger level. But it probably is a bit of both… after-all, my holiness can be squashed by body odor. Why did his smell bother me? This is the voice in my head. Constantly critiquing myself – lamenting a past sermon or the way I handled my kids. So I walked in wondering if I should ever give handouts…
Inside the children’s choir had already started. I had missed Darcy completely. Phoebe’s group was singing. Her voice rose loud above the others. The motions were almost a dance for her. This morning no one could silence her song.
I want to live like she sings. Without fear. Without critique. Without struggling with what is logical. I want to joyfully sing into the chaos. To greet tattoos and smells with love. If I get it “wrong”, to let go of perfection and allow grace. That in Christ my life’s song blesses those around me.