Finding a Rhythm


by Emily Provance, Fifteenth Street Meeting


Wednesday, November 9th, I call the building manager.
“What’s the earliest we can book the meetinghouse?”
“What time do we have to be out?”
“Okay. We’ll worship from five to nine-thirty.”

I text a friend.  This is so scary.
Back from him—I hear you.  Remember: Love is stronger than fear.
From me—I know.  I have decided to be scared for one day.  Then we have a lot of work to do.

That night, I sit on the facing bench.  They start coming in.  A man, by himself.  Then two women.  A man, joined later by a woman, then another, and they seem to be friends.  Two full rows of twenty-somethings who enter en masse.  Mostly strangers.  Forty-five in all.  How did they even know we were open?

A few familiar faces.  In and out, in and out.  Most people stay for about an hour.  At nine-thirty I stand up and join hands with those who remain.  We exchange names.  One man gives us each a sprig of rosemary.  It’s nice—a sweet-smelling sign of life.

Thursday.  A seven-year-old asks me—“What’s un-doc-a-mended?”

Friday.  Somehow, Facebook gets nastier.  A Quaker posts a violent cartoon.  I worry.  She must be terrified.

But also on Facebook, an invitation—you’re in your city, and I’m in mine, but do you want to worship tomorrow at the same time as me?  So we do, and it’s deep, and it’s centered, and it’s familiar, too.

More days, more weeks, more months go by. The sky is falling—so fast.  We’re collectively breathless.  How to respond?  It’s a world over-full of exclamation points.

On the phone, with a Friend.  The work is unchanged.  We’re finding a rhythm.  We know how to do this.  Worship, witness, love one another. Be open to healing.  Testify.

(I’m still kind of scared, God.)
That’s okay.  If you weren’t, you wouldn’t have empathy.


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