The Race Set Before Us
Yesterday, I got up early, along with many others in my city, and made my way down to the scene of a street race Spokane is famous for: Bloomsday. The difference? Unlike most people, I was carrying a pound of bacon. People come from all over the world to run this race, including some very speedy people who jet out ahead. The rest of the race is populated by people from all walks of life: people who run, walk, push strollers or wheelchairs, skip, hop or shuffle.
I ran it once, before my knees gave out and I decided that speedwalking was enough for me. That was at least a decade ago. I think I've gotten over it.
Yesterday, I walked through the barricade and made my way to the home of a friend and her family, who live on the Bloomsday route. When I arrived, they were setting up chairs in the front yard (perfect for watching the spectacle) and starting the first batch of bacon.
I was a little nervous going in, knowing that the only two people I'd met were my friend and her husband. I like meeting new people, having conversations and watching connections click together, but I know as well as anyone that it doesn't always happen. Sometimes things fall flat.
I think, sometimes, that the title of my life could be: "she needn't have worried" (goes pretty well with "little did she know" doesn't it?). In this case, it was true. Immediately, I was enveloped in conversation, community and ease. Someone handed me a mimosa, and I sipped it as I got to know my friend's brother and his wife, members of their faith community and friends from all walks of life. Children wandered around, alternating their excitement between the race and the food.
I crunched on bacon and watched the runners go by, thinking: these are my people. These are kindred spirits who hear: road race and think: bacon. But also: these are my people who can laugh and relax and welcome God into the intimacies of a Sunday afternoon with friends. This is community, this is church.
Maybe it was all of this homeyness that caused me to be more vulnerable than I usually am with people I've just met. Maybe I trust my friend and the people she chooses to have in her life. Maybe it was the sunshine and the laughter and the lightness of spirit. Regardless, I shared some of my hopes and dreams and thoughts and was met with just such things in return. I was encouraged, reminded that God plans good things for me, affirmed and appreciated.
It's funny how belonging creeps up on you. I have struggled with it for years. The places you count on to offer that to you do not always deliver. It's not always church, not always home, not always your carefully planned life or relationships or role. Sometimes belonging comes to you in a small group you're visiting for the first time, on a bus, in a boutique or in a coffee shop.
Sometimes it comes with bacon.