My husband and I have a running gag between us about small groups (home groups, community groups, bible studies... choose the name you like best the good ones are the little families you land on for a bit in this big beautiful body of Christ.) Each time we are thrust into a new one some kind of snarky comment about "wonder how long it'll take to kill this one!" comes out of one of us. Or both of us.
Though as I told this to the leader of our last group she whacked me and reminded me that neither of us killed the last one, it just ended. Then she tried in vain again to get me to make him come to the last hurrah of our old group. I reminded her what he had said, that he didn't understand why when the thing had died quietly in the night we all wanted to wake it back up again and then hold it's hand once more while it passed a second time. Truly, I had this funny image of an old man on the dinner table laid out like thanksgiving and his family stroking his hand. Well. It was funny to me.
The leader had a point though, in that sometimes things end and there is nothing wrong with that. The first time I heard that startling truth was about two years ago at the ripe age of thirty. I guess some deep lessons in life get missed what with all the busyness of life. My mentoring relationship with a young student had come to an end as she was moving out of town and my advisor in the program chided me to "end well" and show the young girl that not all relationships ending has to be a bad or sad thing. What the advisor likely didn't realize in the deafening silence after she said that over the phone was that I was floored by the wisdom. It had never occurred to me to just let something go, let something change, and be OK with it.
So when my last group, that I dearly, dearly loved, seemed to be scattering like a firework in the air I desperately tried to cling somehow to the bits that were left and refused to see the ashes on my hands at first. Then, entering in holy timing, was an opportunity to join a new group and to support my husband even further in his pursuit to be more engaged in our church's arts ministry. It did occur to me somewhat briefly that I also deeply desired to be encouraged in my own art but that was like an extra dash of sprinkles on the icing.
Enter the first meeting of this new group and as we went around the table and said what we were desiring I suddenly wished I could be beside my beloved so I could kick him. He spilled our joke, that he was just hoping we don't kill this group, and I scrunched my eyebrows up in exaggerated expressions as if my mindwaves could smack him. It was true though. It was the main thing I was thinking as well. Already focused on the end. And truth be told, it is likely that this new group will at some point come to an end. But if every time a new baby came into this world and we all stood around the hospital glass wall and said: the day that little squirt dies, yup, that's all I can think about! We'd likely try to have that person committed. Heavens. There is so much life in living and I seem for all the world to miss it often for the worrying.
The new group is still awkward, like a bunch of junior high kids on a date that Dad drove us to, but it's a start. I find myself, as usual, with two pitchforks in hand certain that I MUST guard my heart and not fall in love too soon, too fast and too hard with this batch of saints but they already have me doing fresher and deeper art than I have ever done so I think I'm a lost cause and hopelessly in love. At this point, even if it just lasted for one spirit-filled, art-fused year I would be a very happy girl. So I think I will ride out this wave and just enjoy the spray this time instead of mournfully lamenting the trek from the beach back to the hotel room. There is a season for everything, even new groups, and I have a feeling that the God who makes all things new really, really enjoys new things and the creativity that bursts forth when bewildered and stranger saints are thrown into a room together and emerge something akin to family.