i sat down for our "sharing and learning" meeting at our church community last night. we had taken the summer off from most of our meetings but we still hold our sharing and learning meetings once a month over the summer. it had only been a month since i last sat down with these same folks but it felt like a lot longer than that and in truth attendance at these sorts of things can get a little bit sparse over the summer months.
i looked around at the same faces that i had grown to love and enjoy and an overwhelming thought crossed my mind, "this is my tribe". it had been a phrase that i had heard Lydia utter nearly a decade ago as she tried to express what our community meant to her amidst all the transitions that were going on in her life. it was comforting to her to know that she had found a safe place with people she trusted where she could belong.
i hadn't been looking forward to the meeting last night. i never do look forward to meetings but i also find them valuable once i get there. i feel better afterward because they are my tribe. it is their gift to me. it is an overwhelming gift that digs deep within me and builds me up so that i can pray again. as i see them i realize that i love them and i remember all that they have meant to me over the decade and more that we've been together.
it has been a terribly hard summer for me where ... i haven't really been able to pray ... at least not much and not the way that i'm used to being able to pray. i'm a visual pray-er. in the mornings as i meander to work on my bike i ride past the streets of my church community and as i go by the streets i pray for the people in my community that live on those streets. i pray specifically. i start by praying for Wendy and then i move on to Albert and Nettie whose house backs on to the back alley we share. from there i move to anyone i can think of who lives west of us before i begin my journey east to work. i won't bore you with my prayer list because it could get pretty long but trust me, if you're in my church community and you live anywhere east of me on my way to work, you get prayed for. normally. this has not been a normal summer. i can remember only a handful of times where i've gone through my little prayer ritual this entire summer.
i sat down last night and i felt the gift that my church community gives me. this is my tribe and i KNOW that they love and support me. it was pure joy to see them. i couldn't actually concentrate on the devotional prior to the meeting because i was just enthralled to see everyone. i have tried in the past to express this thought in homilies at worship and i don't know that i've truly gotten it across. i'm a visual pray-er so when i SEE them, i PRAY for them. if they're walking down the street then if at all possible i will be stopping my bike alongside them so that i can chat for a few minutes. i have very literally told them that i'll be doing that sort of thing and they should just humour me for a few minutes ... and they do.
i prayed this morning. for the first time in far too long i have prayed through my prayer list this morning. last night Wendy shared some really hard things to share with our community and we both cried as she spoke. it is a safe place and we know that they love us. i proud of her for being how honest that she is and i'm hoping that i can get to a place that i can pray again. it's worth it.
thank you to Grain of Wheat Church Community for the gift that you are to me. for being my tribe. for loving us unconditionally and for spurring me on to pray as you continue to pray for me.