The hardest aspect of community — well, at least for me (and Mimi) — is receiving. It seems so much more comfortable (for us) to observe or anticipate someone else's need and to act by giving. Little wonder that I ended up in professional ministry... This past weekend though we did some receiving. Besides the desire to express gratitude, I wanted to mark this event as a reminder to those who are constant doers, that receiving is also a sacred act of community.
We have been renovating our home for almost three years — and endless stream of tasks, contractors, and CHAOS. For those of you who know me well, you know that chaos is my mortal enemy. Many who come into my office often offer a variation of this comment: "If it weren't for all the books in your office, I would think you were unemployed." I know, neat desk — sick mind — or at least some form of latent control freek.
Our latest round of chaos had included ripping out all of our upstairs carpet and painting these rooms before the new carpet is put in. We have the classic 80's home — stained ceiling molding, chair rails, floor molding, and endless wood (thank goodness it only needs about 4-6 coats of primer and paint to cover the stain — unambiguous sarcasm intended). After our a few foundation repairs, most of our walls need some measure of repairing before painting can begin. It's a job! Our son, Keenan has been out of his room for 5 months (most of his belongings in my office — which I love!) as this project as has been interrupted by numerous urgencies.
We have been reaching the end of our rope on this one. So Saturday we put out a plea for help and about 10 painters responded to our pleas. Ten friends accomplished in an afternoon what would have taken about a month for us to do. What a gift! We're still working, but we are so much closer to the finish line on this project. We're thankful for this help. But, as we debriefed the day on Saturday evening, Mimi and I both commented on the most significant gift — the reminder that receiving is an element of living in community.
Tomorrow, or later this week, I want to post some theological comments on "gifts, receiving, and community." I have recently listened to Jack Caputo's seminar (from the Emergent Convention) entitled "Why the Church deserves Deconstruction." He has some very profound thoughts of why we can be reluctant to receive — and how our theology and practices can so often reinforce this reluctance. Caputo is a philosopher from Villanova Universtiy.