I’ve been feeling old lately. I have a tear in some tissue in my hip that’s causing me no small amount of pain and discomfort and causing me to limp. I’ve decided to stop coloring my hair and am a bit surprised by just how much gray I have. I turn 50 this year, and, well, that’s not the age of a young person.
This week I attend a church conference – a really good church conference – and I feel both old and strangely young and renewed and a bit excited about the future. Because here’s the thing, at least for me as I limp into the conclusion of my fiftieth year: I’m not really afraid of the things I used to be afraid of. I don’t really get too excited about pies in my face, epic fails, minor fails, or not being one of the Beautiful People in whatever circle I happen to be traveling.
There is a great freedom in not fearing failure. (I am so sorry for that alliteration.) Not fearing failure opens up so many doors. I lived whole lot of my life not doing things because I was afraid I would not do them well, or not be able to do them at all. And that’s a terrible way to live – a safe way, yes, but a terrible way. It’s more existence than living, really, and since we only get one go-round on this life thing, maybe we should live it.
Because I’ve been at this church conference, I think about what it means for the church to live and not merely exist. Maybe some of you who read this blog don’t care much about the churchy posts, so you can just skip this one. But my vocation and avocation are in the church, the mainline Protestant church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This is the church that raised me, formed me, challenged my, called me, disappointed me, bored me, inspired me, gave me the best friends one could ask for, and where I found my husband. It’s the church into which I was baptized and in which I was ordained and married. I love this church and I want it to live, and not just exist.
That’s true for the congregation I serve. I am blessed beyond measure to have been called, with my husband, to serve where I do. There are not mean people in this congregation. There are not people who complain after every worship service, no people who leave snarky notes in my hymnal. They are lovely, faithful, honest people, and I hope they are ready because I think I am going home from this conference ready to light some fires under our collective patookies. (Please substitute your favorite euphemism here.)
One of my favorite lines from the musical Mame is “life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” Well, little baby Jesus grew up and gave us a banquet and we act as though we’re getting soda crackers and room temperature water most of the time. To hell with that – literally. To hell with the tepidness and things that won’t upset our stomachs. To hell with fear, because that’s where it belongs.
Come Sunday, I’ll be limping into the chancel because of my hip. But I’ll be dancing on the inside, up to the pulpit and around the table and down the aisle.