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Be a leaf and ride the river

You may have seen the article a few days ago reporting on the burgeoning relationship that our church, St. Barnabas, is enjoying with Valley View Hospital, its neighbor of many years, to assist in its mission of providing childcare to its employees by providing the space in which to do it. The simple fact that the hospital had a need and we had the resource to meet that need is indeed refreshing, and will lend good energy to the project we call church.

More than that, I have been consistently impressed with the hustle and verve it’s taken to push the hospital’s childcare facility next door into the St. Barnabas parish hall. Yvonne Otto and her staff ” Shannon Foster, Sandy Koepke, Kara Arnold, Gloria Gallegos, Linda St. Onge, Cindy Revesz and Lydia Tonozzi ” have taken the metaphorical bull by the horns, going well past expectations, and it’s largely thanks to the fire in their bellies that the employees of the hospital will again have childcare, we hope very soon.

The logistics are daunting at best. They aren’t just moving a facility; they’re dealing with all the realities and certifications of a space, and (re)imagining their programs in light of the change in a very nimble way. They may be “just doing their jobs,” but by my lights they’re doing them spectacularly well.



Meanwhile, the noise and bluster are an unexpected bonus. If you’ve ever finished out a basement or remodeled a bedroom (or heck, even just cleaned out your garage), you know what I mean: there’s life and movement, planning and visioning, adjusting and readjusting, compromise talk and bedrock need.

A few years ago my wife and I undertook a two-day weekend-warrior project on a bathroom that uncontrollably turned into two very interesting weeks. The room was a windowless affair with a dividing wall between sink and shower, and with its wallpaper of great purple-green paisleys, it had obviously been decorated by a Ralph Lauren devotee of the early 1990s.



Mrs. Homeowner had spared no expense in finding the thickest, stickiest wallpaper yet known to humankind. It may as well have been the Great Wall of China. No chemicals or fancy devices from the home store would budge it. Finally its secret was revealed: It had been placed directly onto untreated wallboard, where it had permanently fused. There was nothing left to do but tear it off in little chunks. We did the best we could, entertaining the possibilities as we went along.

In the end, though, the walls in that bathroom looked as though a team of master plasterers had been imported from Italy to do the work, even though it was just us, bumbling our way through it. A decorating accident from years before had become a happy chance for us, and the eventual buyers of that home reported that they were especially thrilled about the bathroom. Who knew.

So much of life is about just paying attention and making adjustments, and I have to confess that I have as many problems with this as the next cat. But when things come together ” when you stand back for a moment and realize you’re doing the best you can with what you have; when you know you’re somewhere between moving with intention and flying by the seat of your pants ” then you know you’re in the flow of life. It won’t mean you won’t have pain along the way, but I believe that God sees and honors your flexibility all the same.

Recognize that “What is, is.” Surprisingly, accepting things for what they are is the seedbed for being able to change them. As we embrace reality and the changes and chances of life, we are encouraged to meet them head-on and create sustained change in ourselves and in the world around us.

In her book, “Leaving the Saints,” Martha Beck hits this particular nail right on the head. She calls it “Being a Leaf in the Stream” ” “The Stream … was the ubiquitous power of God that flowed through every being, sentient and nonsentient. To become a Leaf was to ride the current without struggling, to sense the inclination of a benevolent reality and surrender to it, moment by moment.”

Amen, Martha. And pass me that hammer.

The Rev. Torey Lightcap is priest-in-charge of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Glenwood Springs (www.saint-barnabas.info). Torey and his wife have two children and live in New Castle.


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