“Ok. . . . Now, turn your head just a little to your right. . . . Yes, that’s nice! OK, one more. Excellent!”
Click, click, click.
For two weeks now at the parish, we’ve been hearing comments and sounds like this. As you may have guessed, we were doing a new picture directory. I had my pictures taken the first day, figuring that if I broke the camera, there would be plenty of time to get it replaced, without inconveniencing too many people who had later appointments.
Camera lights and flashes remind me of this story about a little girl who walked to and from school every day.
One day, billowy clouds in the morning turned to ominous thunderheads by the afternoon. When the lightning and thunder started, the mother rushed to her car and drove to her daughter’s school to pick her up. She suspected that her daughter would be frightened by the storm and in danger.
As the mother approached the school, though, she saw her daughter walking along the sidewalk. Surprisingly, at each lightning flash, the girl would stop, look up and smile.
When the mother pulled alongside her child, she lowered the window and said, “Sweetheart, hurry! Get in the car. Why do you keep stopping and smiling in this storm?”
“I’m just trying to look pretty, Mommy,” she said, looking up and smiling after another flash of lightning. “You see, God keeps taking my picture.”
Now, please don’t attempt to go stand outside during the next electrical storm! But I think it’s safe to imitate the attitude
of this little girl when it comes to facing life.
Doing a new picture directory gave me an excuse to peek through the old one. It was a bittersweet experience. Naturally, the sweet part is all of the memories that it evoked. The pictures captured the faces of new arrivals and longtime parishioners. It reminded me of parish milestones and parish activities. It was fun to see how some couples pictured there had not yet started their families or to see kids who look so young compared to who they are today.
But, honestly, the old directory was also “bitter” in a sense. There are pictures there of parishioners who have died or moved away. There’s a tug when I see photos of spouses now divorced or families that have been fractured. And there are folks there who, because of illness or misfortunes, are not smiling today quite as broadly as before.
In short, the directory is a snapshot of life and a sort of prayer book. Seeing the accomplishments of the parish over the years humbles me. Remembering all of the people who gave so generously of themselves in terms of talents, time and treasures makes me grateful. Looking at the face of those who have moved causes me to wonder how they are doing and what has become of them. And seeing pictures of those who have died makes me pause and pray for them and their loved ones, as I recall conversations we had or experiences we shared.
But missing from the pages of that old directory are many faces that I now see every weekend. These are new parishioners who have moved in or children added to families. Also absent are the recent accomplishments and milestones of the parish. Our new directory will bring things up to date. For me, it will also be my “cheat sheet,” helping me to match names with faces. It will also be a handy tool to introduce parishioners to one another, helping us to grow ever closer as caring parish community.
This holiday weekend take some time to pull out your own parish’s directory and spend time praying and reminiscing with it. May these directories remind us that, even though there’s still plenty to do, there are plenty of friendly faces, hands and hearts to see things through.
So, let’s keep going confidently forward, knowing that God is there to bless and guide our efforts . . . rain or shine.