I’ve spent some time this week clearing out some clutter in my desk to make room for our ministry intern, Stewart Self, who will be using that space while I’m away on sabbatical. I like to think of myself as a generally organized person, but you would not necessarily know this by looking at my desk, so a fair amount of cleaning up was in order.
I tossed out old calendars, organized piles of scrap paper, collected all the old church directories in one drawer, gathered paper clips, and wondered why I had collected so many unsharpened pencils.
In the midst of all the other clutter, I found several small stacks of paper scattered through drawers, all with hand-written notes on them. There were index cards, post-it notes, colored scrap paper. They were from a variety of events over the past five years – a special worship at a leadership retreat, an Ash Wednesday service, an opening devotion at a meeting, a prayer station at The Street. Some were prayers, others were notes of commitment to a spiritual practice, others were promises of service. There are no names on them, and I don’t know who wrote what, or why.
I think, perhaps, that the significance in such an exercise is in the writing itself, in the act of committing a prayer or a promise to paper. I don’t think there’s any real reason to save them, especially so long after the writing is done.
But still, I couldn’t throw them away. Gathered together, they present a beautiful image of the church at work: prayers lifted, gifts offered, the day-in-day out work of being the body of Christ.
My sabbatical begins next week, and I will be stepping away from the church for a few months. I know what a gift it is to be able to take this time, and I am grateful. I’m going to leave those stacks of paper in my desk, but I’ll be carrying their spirit with me as I go. I’m so thankful to be part of a church community that lives and works and practices together so faithfully. Thank you for being the church.