The Pulse of Community

There’s a miniature binder that we pass at church, every week. They give titles, special names to all such things, and ours is called the Community Binder, in which are recorded names of attendees; names, addresses, and contact information for visitors.

They’ve had our contact information for years, decades.

But every week, between the music and the preaching, the praising and the learning, we take a moment and we pass those little black binders. It used to be my job, when my own feet barely reached the floor, and bike-fall scabbed knees stuck out under my Sunday dresses. Now, the little sisters take turns, gripping that black pen and writing our last name in the space provided.

Recording our presence, our participation, week in, week out.

Today, we were just two, there in the pew at the front of the balcony, and I wrote 1/3 of the family after our last name, because it’s true: only El Papa and I were there.

The two adults attending church should probably get up! Tam called at 9:05 this morning, standing in the space between bathroom and bedrooms to serve as human alarm clock. And while the sisters moved about, cough, cough, coughing, and blowing their way through a second tissue box in as many days, we prepared for our morning, for our day.

Barely an hour later, I stand in the kitchen, haphazardly spreading chunks of butter on a toasted mini-bagel. I’m watching the butter melt, watching it seep into the craggy pores of crusty white dough, when I slowly become aware of the sounds behind me.

In El Papa’s office, tucked between dining room and kitchen, someone’s turned on the live stream of this morning’s church service. The first service is ending, and I am vaguely aware of the benediction being spoken as I wrestle more cold butter shavings onto my still-dry bagel. Besides me, El Papa pours his coffee. In the front room, the pair of littler ones cough, play, read; their voices punctuating and shaping the morning.

And then suddenly, a new sound catches my ear, holds me frozen where I am. On screen, in the office, the service has officially ended, the mingling has begun. Music, a worship song sung by a familiar voice, plays in the far background, chords and tune still recognizable.

But that’s not what’s caught me, what’s pulled me in.

Rather, it’s the sound running over the music, the sound moving and boiling, mixing and covering, that I’m listening to, standing in the kitchen while butter melts in yellow puddles on my cooling bagel.

It’s voices.

I can hear the community. I can’t make out words, of course, but I’m captivated by the rhythm, the rise and fall, of a hundred people talking, sharing, laughing, speaking. It sounds so unified, so whole, all those people making all that noise. As each indistinguishable voice folds together with all the others, all I can imagine is the names on those Community Binders, all those individual recordings, notes, scrawled titles, mixing and mingling, swirling into the unity called the Church and the Body and Fellowship.

And it’s repeated over and over again; before each service, after it once more, in smaller groups, throughout the week. Because community like that is living, breathing, noisy, and that heartbeat of fellowship, it just keeps pulsing, like the swirl of conversation I can hear, right there in the Sunday morning kitchen.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Wendy Klinkner
    Mar 31, 2015 @ 06:53:38

    Love this Natalie! You captured the heart of community. It is that “living” entity that makes us feel like we belong , that we are part of something much larger- sacred. Wendy Klinkner


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