L. Gail Irwin is an interim minister in Wisconsin and the author of Toward the Better Country: Church Closure and Resurrection (Wipf & Stock). She blogs at From Death to Life, part of the CCblogs network.
Recently I visited a nearby country church with a tumultuous history. Built in a berg called Klondike, it was originally a Catholic church. In the ’90s, the building was hit by lightning. The volunteer fire department bravely climbed up into the attic and put the fire out, at some risk to their own lives. Repairs were made and the church went on.
But a few years later, in 2005, the diocese closed the church, and its members migrated to another nearby parish.
I started singing in church choirs when I was a teenager. There I learned to read music and find acceptance among the grown up singers. It was my church’s choir director who helped me find my spiritual voice again after a car accident that fractured my larynx. I went on to study vocal music, compose hymn lyrics and sing in choirs at my college, seminary and several churches over the years.
There is a special kind of relationship that forms among choir members. Something about those rehearsals, with their jokes, irritations and prayer rituals, creates a spiritual bond that can’t be replicated anywhere else.
I had a massage from an excellent massage therapist recently, and discovered my body is full of knots. What was supposed to be a relaxing experience became a confrontation with unaddressed pain, as I discovered that I am in pretty bad shape.
Hope is the name of one of the waitresses at my favorite café. She waits tables with eager determination and a bird-like alertness as she darts around the place making sure everyone is happy and well-fed. She always seems cheerful, with her sing-songy voice and a tendency to call everyone “Honey”.