This past Sunday morning, I made my way to the Episcopal church around the corner to hear a friend preach. I had returned the night before from a week’s vacation with friends. I was jet-lagged; here-but-not-here.
It is the nature of true vacations to foster a lovely dis-orientation. Hence I was completely surprised to find it was Pentecost Sunday. Appropriately, we heard about the Apostles speaking in tongues, such that all around them, regardless of nationality, could understand their message. And, we were reminded of the myriad gifts that we humans can manifest, and their source in one Spirit.
It’s taken my body a few days to adjust to living 6 hours behind last week’s schedule. And, my mind as well. Perhaps that explains why, only now, have I realized that our vacation was a Pentecostal experience.
I don’t mean “Pentecostal” in the denominational sense. Our group experience revealed individual gifts that were complementary and necessary for our success:
- One of our party, a veteran traveler, figured out every bus, train and plane schedule and connection, facilitating our forays into the towns around us
- One of us had sufficient knowledge of French to explain to the local maker of fresh pasta that we needed ravioli without meat AND without cheese, to suit all our dietary needs
- One of us un-locked the house’s free wi-fi so that the 3 iPads could get email, not to mention updates on Weiner-gate (good God).
And, I could go on.
For me, this experience reinforces that we can be most useful and most appreciated in community. And, in community we can discover who we are… our gifts, our gaps, our need for others. We learn to appreciate what others bring.
I was delighted that someone else had figured out our travel arrangements to Nice; that someone else foraged for lovely local delights to eat; that someone puzzled through the stick shift on the rental car so that we could go in reverse.
I delighted myself by figuring out how to use the foreign stove and the espresso machine. I delighted others by arranging flowers and building fires. And, by remembering Bette Midler’s Sophie Tucker jokes (not to be repeated here. Please Google).
And, no one made a show of it; no one demanded thanks or applause. It seemed that we were all just being ourselves, bringing what we could, and happy to offer it.
It’s harder for me to remember this, and to live this, in my less-structured and/or less-intentional communities: my apartment building; my daily subway rides to and from work.
But, that’s the challenge, isn’t it? To bring a new consciousness to an old context, and see what can happen.
I don’t anticipate gracing the #1 train with small vases of roses, but, then again…