what chaos creates
Community is birthed out of chaos.
I know this well. My community came around when life dumped some haphazard days and months and years at my feet.
In my breaking and sharing and even in my silence, armies of people have gathered around me and my family. Through my blog, through this community, through friends of friends and Instagram.
You see, we don’t attend church anymore. Not because we don’t want to, but because we can’t. My daughter just cannot be subjected to all the germs or sit through a church service, or safely go to Sunday school. The last time we took her, we laid her down on the church pew, all cushy and burgundy, and tried to prop an iPad up for her, but it didn’t work. She had unhappy apple red cheeks, and frankly, I didn’t feel so great about the whole thing. I felt out of place.
We stopped going and took a deep, somewhat lonely breath. Sundays became slow, with slippers and second cups of coffee and family time in the safety and sanctity of our home.
However, we saw people less.
But then, a few people with large hearts and full schedules managed to pull together meals for us. They fed us in the beginning of my pregnancy with Theodore when I thought I might fall apart. They kept in touch, just a simple hello here and there. They dropped off beaded bracelets and feathers for Florence, jars of honey from the Lower Mainland, books and cards and little somethings for me. Some sent tokens of love in the mail. All of it was extravagant, hearty and kind. Some were strangers, many were friends.
Many of the givers were well-schooled in chaos and pain. They’d spent nights in the hospital, buried their loved ones, struggled with pain or loss or broken dreams. I think this is what propelled them to show up at my door, with toddlers screaming in the mini van, to drop off something warm.
Their lives were busy, but somehow they prioritized the sacredness of giving when not asked to give. You see, I’m not good at asking for help. I don’t know where to start. I don’t know who wants to do what and for how long. I think this is part of the grief process. It can be too tiresome to even think of what I need. So I stay clam-shut and quiet.
The army around me has shown me that the sweetest gifts come unannounced, out of the spirit-led blue.
And I’ve learned something from all this giving. I, too, have a longing to fill the hard holes in the lives of those around me. I have found myself wanting to feed those in my community, as I have been fed. I want them to know: I see you, I hear you, I’m walking with you.
A few weeks ago, I put together a massive bowl of fresh granola. I made extra; plopped it warm and sticky into Mason jars. And just as that granola fed a busy mama for a handful of mornings, so too did it feed me. For when I choose to nourish others, it slows me down. In that slowing down, I find a rhythm, apart from the demands of my own family. It allows me to step back, and relieve a load from my own shoulders. I gain when I give, although that’s not my motive.
Those that fed us with food, words and thoughtful gifts, knit my family into community with each forkful and washi-taped package. They invited us to the table, even when we couldn’t tuck our chairs in.
They taught us to receive and most importantly, carry on in the rhythm of simple, gracious giving.