Dear Friends of Second Church,
I hope you had a wonderful Columbus Day Weekend, enjoying the bright sunshine, the turning of the leaves, and the perfect temperature here in Greenwich, or in so many beautiful places in our part of the world.
As many with young children will admit, three day weekends are not always easy on parents. There is just that little bit more to plan, from meals to group activities to strategies for minimizing “screen time,” with sleepovers and playdates that much harder to coordinate, that many more dishes that need washing, and all those little things that need doing around the house now getting more overdue and urgent.
So when our three and half year old, Emily woke up at 5:30 yesterday morning and broke into a hearty rendition of “Frosty the Snowman,” her current favorite, and Liz rolled over and murmured, “your turn,” I knew I was in for a long day.
And truth be told, it was.
By 9 a.m., we were two loads of laundry and one grudging guitar practice down, and mid way through our second time watching “Frozen,” and I was starting to make cup of coffee number four before I just thought to myself, “Max, don’t do this. This is just a bad idea. Really, really, what does this solve, after all?”
Truth be told, good coffee solves a lot for me, but I knew that this time, it wasn’t the answer.
I gazed out the kitchen window for a moment. I thought I might pray.
I didn’t get that far, though, because it was at that exact moment when I saw Emily’s Pre School class come out into the playground for recess. Emily didn’t have the day off. Pre School was in session. There had been some sort of miscommunication.
I called to Emily, to see if she wanted to jump into her clothes and go to school, after all.
She was quiet. I asked again.
She gave me a long look. “Is Mommy coming to my school today?” she finally asked.
So much for that, I thought. She ran off.
Just then the phone rang.
“Hi, this is Julian Curtiss School,” said a pleasant voice. “Is Grace sick today? We don’t have any note saying she will be absent.”
At that point, Grace (also still in her pajamas) wandered into the kitchen to get herself some Cheerios, then wandered out again.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I improvised to the woman on the phone, “we must have forgotten to put the note in her folder last Friday…..”
Well, so much for my sense of paternal selflessness and the quiet toll of patient, dignified suffering.
Reminded of the difference between life’s little martyrdoms and the speed of my own impulse toward self-pity, I decided that I’d better have that fourth cup of coffee, after all, and get on with it, which is what I did.
Sometimes, blowing it completely can be so clarifying.
There is an old chestnut that “the church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.” We are called as the Church to be a collection of imperfect people who remember that we are loved, even as we make mistakes. Even if those mistakes are far graver than forgetting to look at a school calendar. No matter what, God’s love and forgiveness, and the joy of one another, are what we come seeking, and so often find. Perfection is not ours to claim, and never will be.
That said, the strength, vision, and hope to do better can be ours, and can be found among all those whose lives have been touched by God. Among all the other imperfect, hopeful people we call our friends and God calls His Church.
Hope to see you there this Sunday. Don’t worry: I’ll make myself a post-it note so I remember.
See you in church