Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not My Finest Hour (1/2)

Today was our congregations annual Bread Service. I love this service. I imagine it is one of the closest things UUs have to communion. I was really looking forward to it and made St. Lucia buns* to share. It is also one of the kids favorite services (I wonder why....) When we got to the Chapel and looked at the program, I thought "wow, there is a lot going on in this service". On the agenda were new member recognitions and child blessings. Additionally, there were four speakers, a sermon, a separate children's and choral anthem, with the conclusion being the breaking of the bread. Seemed like a tight schedule for one hour.

As it became more and more apparent that this was going to be a looooong service, I felt myself becoming more and more antsy. Did the minister have to say that same phrase over and over to every new member? There must have been fifteen. Couldn't he do an en mass child blessing instead of individually blessing every single child? There were probably ten of them. Did we need four speakers? Couldn't two do enough? He should have cut his sermon (despite it being really good) - didn't he see that we had been sitting there over an hour?!? With children?!? When were we going to get to the good part?!

Of course, I realize how ridiculous I was being. A very "time is precious" Westerner. Instead of sitting back and settling in, all I could think about was the time and when it would be over. I have been reading "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching" by Thich Nhat Hanh, and realize how far from living in the moment I was. Instead of celebrating all the new members and welcoming then into the community, I was counting how many more were in line. I should have been rejoicing in all the babies that truly are a blessing to us, instead of wondering why families couldn't stand up there together. The four speakers spoke from their heart and crossed generational lines and perspectives on what it truly means to be grateful and loved. I was too wrapped up in my own selfish thoughts to appreciate the true beauty of the service. When I reflect back on this morning, I am disappointed in myself. I am the one who lost out. This next year, I am really going to work on being in the present - I just wish it wasn't so hard.

*For those of you new to Bread Services: traditionally congregants bring bread that has some sort of meaning to their family. After it is blessed, we break it together and share it throughout the congregation. It is a wonderful way to reconnect with each other and our unique traditions. Since two of my children are Swedeophiles and my grandpa was part Swedish, we decided on the St. Lucia buns.


Bridgett said...

It is so hard to breathe into services like these, though. I remember my first mass at Rock church--3 hours long. Afterward all I did was complain about the length. Now I go to a church where an hour and a half is normal and I watch other people get impatient and remember my own irritation.

Grasshopper said...

Our services aren't generally long enough for too much restlessness, but now and then I get nervous if someone is making noise, or if I think something in the sermon might cause controversy ("Hoo-boy, the minister is gonna hear from ___ about that!"). I have to keep reminding myself that this is a safe and sacred space ... quite possibly the only one that any of us will really have a chance to experience all week. That calms me down.

Joy said...

Last week our service ran short. That's probably what happenned we had a spooky action at a distance transfer of all that extra time. We have folks who go positively mad that our service is 1 hour 15 as it has been for years and years..

Just to be a contrarian. I think I will plan a two hour service with a snack in the middle.