Work days, relationships and soul stirring

May 26, 2017

Last Saturday was our annual spring work day at Lakewood Preschool. My kids (James, 13, and Kate, 9) and I had the privilege of attending with six other members of our church.

Years ago, when the playground was built, we volunteered at the work day and it felt great to see how that playground has been enjoyed since. Watching the precious children who sang at the Lakewood luncheon several weeks ago, I could picture them laughing as they ran through the mulch and squealing as they slid down the slide. I pictured those same faces as I pulled weeds and wiped away spider webs (and, yes, spiders) from their cubbies.

I often arrive to work days such as this with a heart and head full of noise from the busyness of life. I confess that I am very much a Martha type of gal, hustling and getting things done, though I long to be a Mary, sitting quietly at the feet of Jesus. This day was no different, with demands at home nagging at me in the back of my mind as we pulled into the school. As we entered the gates of the playground, I told my children, “We’ve got one hour to help as much as we can.”

Two hours later, I looked at my watch in disbelief. How could the time go so quickly? Then it dawned on me that my focus hadn’t been on the work, but on the people with whom I was doing it. We talked about our children, congratulating one another on their achievements and rolling our eyes at the phases they go through. Experienced gardeners shared advice with novices, while the novice’s children mocked her black thumb. (That may or may not have been me…) We got to know each other’s children, noticing how their mannerisms mirror their parents’ and how one sibling is so different from the other. We teased a friend about putting her type-A gifts to work organizing the school’s shed. We learned that other friends had helped lay the roof on the school building when it was first built, before they were married, before they had the teenagers we were getting to know.

Looking up at the end and seeing what we had done together, serving together while being together, was powerful.

Relationships take matters beyond my head, even beyond my heart, and straight to my soul.  Worshipping on Sunday is wonderful, but the church is much more meaningful when I grapple over scripture with others or receive a card or meal when I’m struggling. Think of how much it means when someone says they are praying for you when they know you.

Relationships play such a part in our commitment to anything we do that has meaning in our lives.  Without relationships it is so difficult to become truly engaged. Think about the causes you believe in passionately. More than likely you have a personal connection that stirred your interest and commitment.

Soul stirring should happen at church, if nowhere else. Isn’t that part of the church’s job? My invitation to you is to think about what does stir, or could stir, your soul.  Make a connection.  Make it a priority.  See what happens.

– Heather Herring, Child & Family Partnership Coordinator