The Ruach of Spring

The last thing one expects at the start of spring is to get hit with the flu (and yes, I got a flu shot this year)! So imagine my dismay when my visit to the doctor resulted in more than a sinus infection.

It was prep week for UCC Norwell, a youth group coming from the Boston suburbs. Prep week can be hectic making sure everything is printed and ordered. I felt guilty being home and since I have never had the flu before did not realize how draining and long-lasting its effects. Though my temperature was gone I still missed Saturday orientation in order to be fully energized to meet the group and begin our week together Sunday. Sunday I felt a rush of energy and was ready to meet UCC Norwell.

Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week I just knew God was on my side. In Amazing Grace fashion you cannot begin Holy Week without a short Palm Sunday processional into the church. As we gathered on the steps of the church to recite the beginning liturgy for service I could feel the excitement building. Then we began to sing and walk the four short corners near the comes the shoe dropping! I promise it was not a fast pace and nor did I sing with full breath every verse, but that was it for me. By the time we hit the gospel lesson my body was done and my lungs were shot. A coughing fit sent me to the basement to try to cool down and calm my unending cough. I could hear Pastor Gary reciting the familiar scripture of the night Christ was betrayed. I silently prayed for my cough to stop so I could rejoin service, but not even the cough drop could soothe my overworked lungs. I was feeling betrayed by my body as I tried to figure out what all I could do to ease my cough. A slight break gave me the opportunity to return to my pew to collect my things and let Liv know I was going home. I overdid it, back to bed I went!

So as Monday came, with determination and caution I went to Amazing Grace (AG) to finally meet UCC Norwell and begin our week of service with Natalie and the AG family. As Pastor Gary began giving background on the church and some of the initiatives it provides for the community, I began to think of my experience with the flu and this time of Holy Week and mission. As we began personal introductions with some congestion building up I introduced myself to the group reflecting on the creation story in Genesis. It is the ruach of God, the breath, wind, and spirit of God that is at work when we think of mission. It is the spirit of God creating a garden space where blight was rampant. It was the breath of God that I was praying for last week and on Sunday to fill my lungs and ease my cough. Our time and work in the AG space would be like the wind of God moving through the space and changing it as we work. See God and the Holy Spirit saw and moved among the void, but I defined it as opportunity, spaces for something new to be created, places where healing needed to happen. I reminded the group that it is this ruach of God that we should be looking for and reflecting on as we began the work that day. At the end of the week, with still a lingering cough, but a restored energy I reminded the group again that many have already began to comment on the changes they can see in the space. That though there is still much more work left to be done, that they should be proud of how God worked through them that week. That their spirit moved through the AG garden space and together we were able to create much needed change. Their energy was a much needed breath of fresh air for me, just as being out in the open after days in bed was needed energy for my healing. And so, though there will always be tasks left to complete at Amazing Grace, we could say with great confidence that this project is finished!

-Mel, Hands and Feet Fellow

It is finished! UCC Norwell takes a rest to soak up the sun and take a breath on the last day of service at Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in McElderry Park, Baltimore, Maryland. Photo: Mel Lowry

It is finished! UCC Norwell takes a rest to soak up the sun and take a breath on the last day of service at Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in McElderry Park, Baltimore, Maryland. Photo: Mel Lowry