The rain was pelting my face, my galoshes sloshed around in the 5 inches of rain water accumulated outside our basement door, and as I bailed out the lowered step to stop the water from making its way into our house I slowly realized I was going to have to de-clog the drain that was OBVIOUSLY not doing its job!
So there I squatted elbow deep in dirty rain water scrapping the sludge from the bottom of the drain. Several times my hand disappeared into the now murky water to emerge moments later with another fist full of filth! This was Thursday, my last day as Campus Minister at Neumann University, and a day I will not soon forget--not because I was leaving my job, but because it was the day the floods made me feel as though I were a contestant on Fear Factor.
The next day, although not really sunny, the rains had subsided and for the most part it was a fairly decent day--at least it was dry . . . er. Friday was Sr. Maureen's birthday!!! If you've been following my story you understand my belief in the importance of birthdays--days worth celebrating every moment! Maureen had shared that her favorite cake was strawberry shortcake. The night before I found what looked to be a heavenly recipe, what I did not take note of was the fact that the blog on which I found the recipe was written by a woman in England, where they use the metric system. All I have to say about that is praise the person who invented google!
Fact, I am a wonderful cook. Fact, not all cooks can bake. Fact, I am one of those cooks! Baking is not my forte. I did however, finish the day out with a BEAUTIFUL homemade strawberry shortcake, but I didn't get there easily. At one point there was flour strewn about the kitchen, not a counter top was spared. My mother tells a story of one Christmas in which she allowed my brother, sister, and I to make gingerbread houses, she shares that by the time my father came in from work the three of us, (two mere toddlers) were sitting ON the kitchen table with flour covering just about every inch of our bodies. At 28 I came very close to reenacting that very scene.
Why am I writing about sludge and flour? Well, besides the suggestion of Maureen (come on, it does make an awesome title), I realized this too is Lent. Tis' the season for cleaning up the mess of our lives, whether it be self inflicted or imposed by an outside force for which we weren't quite ready. Holding the sludge in my hand one day and being covered in flour the next I realized the mess we make of ourselves. Lent is about digging out the sludge and dusting off the flour of our hearts.
As I further reflect upon this image I am brought back to community. In both instances I would not have found myself doing what I did had it not been for the greater good of the community. I went out into the rain because I didn't want the sisters with whom I live to have to be standing in the cold rain bailing out the step. I was cleaning up the flour because I wanted to make something special for Maureen's birthday.
In the end, living in community has helped me to de-sludge and de-flour my life, because it is in community that I am called to--AND held accountable for--my actions. Living alone I easily fall into the rut of not caring, but in community there is no room for that sort of apathy. In community you hold each other up and call each other to a deeper understanding of self, God, and Christian community!