A few years ago I was very active in a local Anglican church. Sadly the Diocese closed the church because of - what else - money problems. But during the years that I was there I learned a lot about people and about myself.
When they closed that church I started to attend another one but over time became less and less involved and now find myself sitting alone way in the back pew on Wednesday nights. I still love the essence and the artistry of this particular liturgy but, for me, something is missing and several things are just wrong.
Last week I found myself in danger of becoming like any number of the old dears I used to see at my earlier church. Many of them would find anything - everything - to complain about. Nothing seemed to make them happy and I used to wonder "do you only come to church so that you can complain?".
One of them, lets call her 'Barbara', was particularly difficult. No matter what happened, no matter what changes were made, she hated them. She seemed to hate everything. And yet I sensed that, deep inside of her, she wasn't as persnickety as she appeared on the surface. I thought she was probably very sad and quite lonely and that this curmugeondly facade was a mask of protection.
So when, last week, I found myself detailing & itemizing in my mind a large number of criticisms about what is now happening in my church, 'Barbara' came to mind. And I recalled how my then friend Liz & I had promised each other that should we EVER become like 'Barbara' we would give each other a shake. And since I no longer see Liz I had to give myself a shake and try to put things into perspective. OK, so there's things happening that annoy me. Things that distract me from my worship. So what? Get over it. Focus on what's important and ignore those minor irritations. Because that's all they are - minor - and if I let them fester and grow then I too will become a 'Barbara' .... sad and lonely and generally miserable. And I promised Liz I would never let that happen. But more than that even, I promised myself.
So thanks 'Barbara' for being a reminder for me as to what not to do. Thanks for being my 'anti' role model.