Cacophony of Delight

Cacophony of Delight

It’s midway through October, and it’s feeling like a more “normal”—gulp—fall season in the life of ministry and parenting. For the past four Sundays, we’ve led worship in front of a live, in-person congregation in Sanctuary C. Staff members are sharing time in the OBIC office suite more frequently. Kids are whining about early weekday alarms, and complaining about teachers, and amusing us at the dinner table with stories of schoolmates’ shenanigans. We’re hearing the distant sounds of the marching band at the nearby high school on Friday nights. And our work and family calendars are more full than they’ve been in a long while. “October is always busy,” as someone recently observed.

I wonder if the same is true for you.

And I wonder, also, if you share my hesitation about allowing things to slip—uncritically, without thoughtful examination—back into that more familiar and frenzied / busy / calendar-driven mode of functioning.

For all the awfulness and isolation and separation and illness and loss of the past year, I have also experienced a particular privileged benefit: There has been a forced shift in how I inhabit the spaces where I live and work and sleep and eat … how I occupy my time … how I inhabit the world.

There’s been a kind of spaciousness that came with that shift, a fuller and more open experience of space and time. I value that spaciousness and don’t want to lose it.

So, one of the ways I’m practicing resistance—resistance to the frenzy, to the mindlessness, to the life of unexamined doing—is by deliberately noticing and appreciating the relatively small and ordinary things of daily living. Things that offer joy, delight, laughter, awe.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed and appreciated and delighted in recently:

  • the cacophony of real-life sounds as I visited with a small group of beloved PATH leaders in an outdoor venue—each other’s voices; car engines; neighboring tables’ conversations; the in-reverse-beeping alert of delivery trucks; a dog barking; a runner’s feet on the pavement;
  • dinner prepared by a teenager … and containing shallots (YUM);
  • the wholly contented dog lying in the afternoon sunshine … which offered an invitation for me to sit and work in that same sunshine;
  • those aforementioned shenanigan stories over dinner;
  • an unexpected encounter with a very small UUCC kid and one of their parents;
  • butterflies and bees enjoying the few flowers that are still alive in our yard;
  • and, finally—not so small!—the gratification of handing a large check to the President of a worthy organization, someone who acknowledged the gravity of the gift and will invest it well. (Thank you to everyone who contributed to fulfill our pledge to the Bauder Center (Long Reach Head Start)!)

There is so much awful in our world. And much to be grateful for, too. What are you noticing?



  1. Ross Martin

    I’m noticing that re-entry is tricky. What was once “normal” feels like a cause for high alert. AND it’s wonderful to notice these things a little more. Last weekend we had our first, limited-audience One World Coffeehouse concert (minus the coffee, picnic baskets, bake goods, tables, and candles that gave it a particular vibe. Despite the reduced audience, masks, and stricter structure, it was a lovely occasion.

    This morning I got to hug my landlady, Nancy Lewman, as we talked about my move to Berkeley Springs, West Virginia at the end of the month. I think I’ve missed unscheduled hugs most of all the losses from the pandemic.

    In my semi-retired and maybe permanently retired state, my calendar has been blissfully unstructured for many months. While I expect to get busier in the coming months, I hope to never again be driven by an overworked schedule.

  2. Kathy Parker

    Paige — Thank you for this. I have felt weighted down by the news lately, shootings, storms and floods, political intrigue that borders on deliberate mayhem. Your thoughts help me train my focus on what is positive. My grand daughter marching in the color guard of her HS marching band, picnics sitting outdoors with friends, attending a Home Show at the HOCO Fairgrounds, etc. It is welcome indeed to be able to engage with those in our communities.
    To Ross, best of luck with your retirement in WVA. We will miss you!

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