Friday, January 24, 2014

The Unheralded Champions (Friday Five)

In today's Friday Five, Deb writes as follows:
With the Olympic Games in Sochi just around the corner, I started thinking about all the athletes who attend the Games and never win a medal. The hours of practicing, sacrifice and dedication don’t get noticed by the media. Yet, for the love of their sport, they persevere.
Then I began to reminisce about the “Olympians” in the Church. Perhaps you can think of faithful ones who never get up to preach, sing or read, but faithfully come, week after week, to serve. It seems to me they deserve a medal of sorts.
So, for this week’s Friday Five, share stories or memories of those “medalists” of the Church who have encouraged you in their faithfulness.

1 ~I attended a convent boarding school for grades seven through nine, a school in which the aged and bent Sister Mary Anthony was a ubiquitous presence.  She cleaned and scrubbed and polished, hallways and bookcases and windows, endlessly ~ and probably still does, into all of eternity.  In a school filled with 125 girls tramping in and out all day, her lone task was never finished, and she occasionally barked at us when our boots trailed mud or snow down one of her gleaming hallways. 
I was over at the convent just after Christmas ~ it's only twenty minutes from my family home ~ and paused at her grave for a moment.  I doubt that many of us girls gave much thought to her labors at a time when we were trying to spread our wings, but I would guess that every one of us remembers her now with some degree of awe.
2 ~ Although I experienced an excess of church in my six years in two boarding schools, I knew nothing about the more usual forms of church community when my husband and I joined a large Methodist congregation as we approached our thirties.  Eventually I was invited to join what I guess today might be termed the social justice committee, headed by an elderly gentleman named Lee.  His wife, Bev, taught an adult Sunday school class which we sometimes attended.  Lee and Bev were a retired couple, quiet but always gracious and generous, and thirty years later they come immediately to mind when I think of our early years in that church, years in which I was often curiously attentive to the ways in which people lived out lives of faith.
3 ~ In the church which I just left as pastor, there are a number of ladies who do some of everything, but one in particular stands out.  Carol doesn't sing in the choir or serve as a liturgist, but when a meal is needed post-funeral or for any other event, one call to her and it's as good as done.  She can be a bit of a curmudgeon (which I say in the most loving way), so I was surprised at first, but eventually learned that she would be the first to speak up when there was a bit of debate over whether to fund some sort of mission need.  "Well, of course we should do that," she'd say.  "It's not as if we don't have the money."
4 ~ In the same church, there's a group of men, aged 25-75 (at least!) who are similarly reliable servants.  They're the group I used to tease, because they would announce that a trustees' meeting would be taking place on a given evening and, if I stopped by, I would invariably find them in overalls and boots, sitting around and telling stories.  But they also, when no one was looking, accomplished nearly every single maintenance, construction, and repair task in that building.  Farmers know how to do everything, and they do it, without fanfare but often with a great deal of humor.
5 ~ And, because it came up this week:  I have a good friend, a Catholic woman, who as far as I know holds no leadership position in her church.  She's a spiritual director (she was in my class), ands professionally she's a nurse.  As we sat with a small group in the funeral home two days ago talking over what we might do for our newly bereaved mutual friend, I told everyone that I used to receive little envelopes and packages from Marcia, occasionally and out of the blue, each containing a few little odds and ends: a refrigerator magnet, a tiny  Pema Chodron book, a card with a quote or a prayer.   "It was just knowing that someone was thinking of you," remarked another woman.  Indeed.
So . . . gold medals for all who demonstrate the presence of Christ to others.  Although I'm sure that all them would prefer a can of soup donated to a hunger center over a gold medal for themselves. 


  1. All great Olympians!

  2. Cherishing these dear folks who bless and encourage their pastors and their friends, and make the Church a beacon of light to the world! Thanks for playing! :)