Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Judy Dunn

In 1982, a college friend and I backpacked through Europe, traveling with our lives on our shoulders, and sleeping bags at our hips. We stayed in Youth Hostels, surrounded by others of our age and ilk.  The hostel near St Paul's Cathedral in London was one of our favorites, with a large dining room that remained open through the day (in those days most hostels were locked up tight during the day, so that travelers' belongings were safe).  On the walls were quotes from many literary travelers.  One rainy day (surprise, Rain in London!) Suzanne and I sat drinking tea, reading and writing all day long, inspired by the words on the wall and the languages across the room.  We met young men from Australia, women from Scotland, many others from North America.  We were young and privileged--we had money enough to put off the cares of adulthood just a little longer. 

Along our route, we sometimes met the same people over and over.  In Stratford, we walked the streets of Shakespeare's youth, had a real English tea in an upstairs shop right next door to the house where he was born, met two old ladies in a park, drinking their tea with their King Charles Spaniels sipping tea and bisquits right on the bench beside them.  At the Youth Hostel that night, we met a young woman from Australia and her companion who had been her English penpal since they were children.  We sat next to them at tea, and they were in the same sleeping quarters with us as we lay out our sleeping bags.  Neither Suzanne nor I remembered their names, but the next morning, as we were getting up, one of them called the other, "Judy Dunn."  So, while we were sweeping the room, washing out the sinks, I said hi to Judy.
"Judy?" she answered.  "Who's that?"
"Your friend called you Judy," I told her. "Judy Dunn."
Both 'Judy' and her friend looked at me, then at each other, and began to laugh. "No," the non-Judy said. "I said, 'did you get your duty done?'"
Judy Dunn--Duty done. Suzanne and I laughed with them.  And for the rest of our trip, whenever we had to clean up something, we called each other "Judy." Whenever we were given a responsibility, asked to help, or even simply opened our journals to write, we were "Judy Dunn."  Doing whatever we did for Him.

Doing your duty--taking care of chores, responsibilities--Being Judy Dunn.  We don't always look at the up side of duty, do we?  Whenever a thing reeks of duty or obligation, we rear back, we 'saved by grace' protestants.  Don't we?  Yet, Paul tells us that in the body of Christ, it's a little like we're in those Youth Hostels--"If you don't work, you don't eat."  He tells us that we are meant to work together, do our chores in order keep the place running.  We're in this thing called the Kingdom together and that comes with responsibilities.  Duties.  Obligations.  I'm not talking about rigid rules, but those disciplines that train us, and expand the Kingdom.

I'm thinking about this today, because I'm in a quieter season of my life than I've ever been.  I have no church responsibilities, am involved in no formal ministries right now, and this is unusual for me.  In fact, I don't think I've had another season like this in my Christian Life.  So I wonder, what is my task, ministry-wise?   Where does He want me to get in and sweep up the place with 'Judy Dunn'? How does He want me to man up and work for the amazing nourishment He gives me daily?

As I write this, I'm conscious that this blog itself is ministry.  I hear from people quite often who have been struck by something written here.  Thank you for that.  But it's Christ, not me.  Just my puny hands tapping the letters, trying to write in the key of Jesus.  Is this all He asks of me?  Just to do this little thing that I love to do?  Yes, I think.  That's the answer.  Our tasks in the Kingdom don't have to be hard.  Duties don't have to hurt or feel pulled from us like a dentist with pliers, yanking out something against our desire or interest.  God gifts us in particular ways.  He expects us to use those gifts to honor Him.  He won't ask me to sing, He won't ask me to keep the books, or administrate, or be a woodworker.  What He asks is that I use what He's given me to glorify Him.  Being Judy Dunn in my writing, being Judy Dunn in my relationships.  Doing my work heartily as unto the Lord, rather than humans.

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