Beve and I got up at 3:30 this morning because he had to catch a flight to Dallas for a two day meeting about the (yawn!) FAFSA. For those of you unfamiliar with all things student-related, that acronym means: Free Application for Federal Student Aid. In other words, it's the online way for college-bound and college students to get financial aid from Uncle Sam, which they'll spend their lives paying back (or in some cases, defaulting on!). So Beve--lucky dog!-- gets to spend the next two days sitting in a room with a whole lot of other educators of one kind or another talking about how to help students apply, how to best serve them as they work a sometimes apparently complicated system. Beve was asked to go to this conference, and even last night was dreading it. Frankly, to me, it sounds about as exciting as dry toast and powdered milk. I can think of a whole lot of things I'd rather do than sit in a large room with people talking about numbers and systems and...well, I'm half-nodding off just thinking about it.
Though that could be from what was a very short night's sleep--like 1.5 hours of uninterrupted hours. Sigh. Anyway.
We spent the weekend with some friends down south, then made our way up the I-5 corridor, stopping first at my brother's for a late breakfast (he turned 55 yesterday, the old man!!!!), then at other friends' to retrieve a pew. Yep, a church pew from my childhood church back in the Palouse. Back in September at Mom's memorial service, in visiting with old church friends, I'd lamented that the gorgeous blond wood pews had been removed from the sanctuary and replaced with stackable chairs. Aesthetically, it just doesn't do anything for me. The wife said, they'd sold or given most of those pews away but still had two short (5') ones. "Would you like one?" Absolutely! I told her. A couple of weeks later, my sister had to call her about something and she offered the other pew to RE, which RE was glad to take. She picked them up, had a couple of her kids bring ours across the state However, in the kind of gyrations typical to our family, complications arose involving cars, people, the pew, etc. and that pew has been taking up space in a studio in Marysville for the last two + months. It wasn't until yesterday that we had the stars lined up in such a way that we could retrieve it.
So now it's here, right inside our back door, where we'll use it to sit down and put on and take off shoes and slippers. Take off the outside world and enter in to our home, so to speak. It is sweet to me to think that both RE and I have these tangible pieces of the house where our parents lived and breathed, came to faith and lived all their spiritual lives. I can sit on this bench and slide as easily as I did when I was eight years old, the wood is still that smooth. And, though it's not visible, I know that facing the wall are the slots for offering envelopes, small pencil, communion cup and hymnal that kept us occupied when sermons seemed long and impenetrable...which, to tell the utter truth, didn't actually ever quite go away no matter what my age when I sat on those pews in that church. Sorry, Mom and Dad. But worship happened for them, and brought them to a real and living faith, and that faith is in His Son. Maybe even sometimes sitting on this very pew.
This pew watched me be baptized, marry my Beve, say goodbye to grandparents and my beloved Dad...and was still sitting clear out back when we did the same for Mom. Yep, this short wooden bench was present for a whole lot of my history. My sacred history. There is something sacred about this short pew. Lean in, can you hear Him? In the very grain of the wood, I catch His whisper, reminding me that in all those moments of my life story (and of so many, many others' stories, too, of course), whether I knew it or not, whether I was awake to Him, or bored silly and drawing on offering envelopes, He was there, present in His house--working, moving, simply BEing, the I AM THAT I AM.