Like good liturgy, Sundays are beginning to take regular shape. It is worth noting that in ancient Greece, a liturgy was a public work performed for the benefit of the city or state. Its principle was the same as the one for paying taxes, but it could involve donated service as well as taxes. Paul speaks of the Roman authorities literally as “liturgists of God” (Rom. 13:6) and of himself as “a liturgist of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles” (Rom 15:16). My reference to liturgy here encompasses both the secular and faith contexts. While USH is not a public work it is a group of individuals, somewhat dependent on and responsible to one another benefitting its community. It is the work of the residents that lends shape and order to this USH community in which people live.
I arrive around 8:00am. Some residents are already at church. Others are out for a walk or still enjoying a slow Sunday start. At 8:00am, San Diego is already at an unseasonable 80 degrees with 80% percent humidity. The Mandala templates, prepared yesterday are under the TV in the commons area. D is a good steward of the colored markers. He retrieves them and they are placed in containers next to the templates so everyone can get the idea and participate. B, who has a room and bed at USH spends a great deal of time with her boyfriend who lives in the park. She picks up six of the mandala templates, about a half-dozen colored markers and heads out the door. I assume she is going into the park to work on mandalas with her boyfriend. This is USH outreach in a most organic fashion. How wonderful it is to see this ancient form of meditation reaching people in the woods of Balboa Park. R comes out of his room, greeting me with the usual very southern and proper, “Good Morning Miss N.” R, and how are you? “I am doing well.” Usually, I only get, “I’m okay.” But, we have been working on this exchange and it seems to be taking hold.
Yesterday, M had let me know that the Tea Bar was low on tea. I forwarded a request for replenishment but went ahead and picked up a couple of boxes of tea packets to get the group through until the order arrives. Apparently, tea is gaining in popularity as the drink of choice over coffee – decaffeinated, herbal tea that is. A little history here. The Tea Bar was inaugurated about six weeks ago as an alternative to coffee. A dedicated hot-pot was purchased for “tea only” use. An attractive sign produced and various flavors of herbal tea introduced. The Tea Bar has many new and frequently visiting friends.
Several people began to ask about when we were leaving for church. At 10:20pm D and I left for St. Paul’s. J attended 8:00am, as usual and we could not locate O. D attended several times before with me.
Afternoon, around 2:30pm is Bible Study time. Today, it B, J, and N attend. We are on Day 6, still in Genesis and continuing Matthew and the Sermon on the Mount. Abraham and Sarah acquire new names, Ishmael and Isaac are born. Abraham successfully negotiates with God on behalf of the people of Sodom. Good discussions ensue, in between the usual creative distractions and questions coming from a mind full of “what ifs.” Our take aways? We are fortunate to have a loving and generous God, whom we praise in humility as misshapen earthen vessels. We are imperfect and rely upon God’s grace as we try each day to do God’s will in our actions and with our voice.
After two months of being present, life at USH takes on a certain pattern and flow that involves liturgy, study, activity, and conversation in community. Residents engaged in spiritual and interest inventories. Weekly Bible study progressed. Individual copies of Forward Movement are available for daily meditation. Colorful mandalas created. Visits to St. Paul’s on Sunday’s and during the week were shared.
The sights and signs of community are emerging. Flowers are placed in the vase at the front desk by others now. Smiles abound, even though the pain remains. What is the tie that binds this evolving, rather fractured, unusual community cadence? Our dear residents live on the edge of sanity and reality, incapacitated by hurt, pain or abuse, surrounded by discrimination and rejection for a good portion of their lives. Is Jesus the selvage, the oneness, that binding-at-the-margin that holds us all together and keeps the fabric from utterly unraveling? With abiding hope, I believe so.
Gregerson, Linda. “The Selvage.” Poetry Foundation. December 2010. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/240828 (accessed August 30, 2015).
White, James C. Introduction to Christian Worship. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000.
Zabriskie, Marek. The Bible Challenge. January 10, 2015. http://thecenterforbiblicalstudies.org/ (accessed August 15, 2015).