A reflection from Maggie King, Clerk of the Vestry
I have a small bumper sticker on my car that reads “Be Nice.” It is a more secular way of saying “Love one another,” isn’t it? I see it every day as I approach my car to go off to work. My current chosen work involves not much more than “loving one another” and teaching others to “be nice.” I am a pre-school teacher assistant working with 3-year-olds. The pre-school children’s job is not to learn their ABCs, nor their 1-2-3s. Their primary job is to learn to get along with each other – to learn to “be nice.” And this is a tall task for some. Just as loving my neighbor can at times be challenging for me. I’ll start with “being nice.”
I was at a gathering recently where one of the party-goers wore a sweatshirt with a red-white-and-blue image of an AK-47 that also spelled out “2nd Amendment.” I found it to be very “in-your-face” and I made the educated guess that, given my liberal political persuasions, I would not have too much in common with this neighbor. On the other hand, he can’t be all that bad, I thought…he just feels strongly about an individual’s right to bear semi-automatic assault rifles that fire 40 rounds per minute and are specifically designed to kill other human beings. Can you tell that I struggled to make room for this man in my head and in my heart?
It was easier to make room for him in my head. I could recognize his dignity as a father, a son, a worker, a friend. I could recognize that he loves and laughs and wrestles with life just like all of us do. But could I find a place for him in my heart? Could I find love for him? Well, I did not introduce myself to have his acquaintance. I did not enter his sphere nor let him into mine. But I did let him be and enjoy the party on his terms while I enjoyed it on mine. I am challenged by “love thy neighbor” when it is my foe of which we speak.
So where is St. PJs in all of this musing? St PJs is where I feel free to bring my struggles. St PJs is where I feel welcome in all my imperfection. St PJs is not a home for the superficially coifed or frozen chosen few. St PJs is a home to whomever will have her. St PJs, in my experience, is a place where people from a variety of backgrounds and history find comfort, solace, friendship, rest, renewal. Some of us have been here our whole lives, others have just arrived on our albeit crumbling doorsteps; many have called St PJs their home for decades. There is just something about PJs that feels comfortable to certain kinds of folk. And to all those folk: You are in my heart!! I feel it – and it feels oh so good!
Thanks for helping me to be nice, and not just to those for whom that is an easy task. Thanks for helping me to expand my heart and live into that which is challenging. Thanks for all you do just by showing up at St PJs on a Sunday morning.
May the peace of the Lord always be with you,
Maggie King, Vestry
PJs Wardens and Vestry