I often tell stories about my Tuesday Night Bible Study. Not about the things we talk about together, because that is sacred, but about those women and what we have come to mean to each other over the years.
We’ve been Church for each other when being in the local church has been disheartening, and when we’ve wanted to walk away from it altogether. We’ve been prayer warriors when the days have been hard and the nights rocking babies or writing papers have been even longer. We’ve been cupcake bakers celebrating birthdays, and casserole makers mourning losses. We’ve cried and laughed and hugged, and have logged more hours together than we’ve logged with some of our oldest friends.
We are each other’s people. We are community.
“When you walk with someone, listen to their story, carry their burden, play with their kids, that’s community. When you pray for them in the middle of the night because their face popped into your mind, when you find yourself learning from them and inviting them more and more often into the family places in your life, that’s community, and wherever you find it, it’s always a gift.” –Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet
The thing about being somebody’s people is that it means sometimes being in the family places means you are literally in the family places, like a wedding.
It means that sometimes you spend a Friday night hanging stars and laying out place cards with table numbers, helping to turn an elementary school gym into a reception hall. It means that you sit down with your friend’s Aunt Pat and you listen to stories about Buffalo, New York and growing up in the projects. It means you put on a sundress and a pair of flats, and you use your Saturday helping your friend’s sister’s wedding be an unforgettable time of celebration, making sure the champagne stays cold and the tea and lemonade containers stay full. It means you stay long after most the other guests have left, stacking chairs and taking down stars and mopping floors to turn the reception hall back into a gym. And it means that after your friend’s sister has finished opening her gifts with her new husband, you hear your friend when she talks about how quiet life is about to get now that her sister has moved out.
Because this is a family place, and family places are sacred. They are as sacred as the Tuesday night time we spend together with our Bibles open.
I think maybe the blurry line of what is sacred is the gift of community, because I can’t tell anymore when I’m with these friends when one holy moment ends and another one starts. I think maybe God has met us more in moments when we’re sitting on the floor knee-to-knee talking about our days then He has in some of the forced conversations we’ve had following the questions in some book. And I know He was with us in that gym-reception hall this weekend when we mopped and talked and showed up for one of our own.
This is community. This is a family place. And even if you find it in an elementary school gym, it is a gift.