Being a pastor comes with some great privileges. One, is that people, often times those you hardly know, invite you “behind the curtain.” They allow you to see the real stuff of their lives, hearts, minds, emotions and relationships. They tell you things they have told no one else…ever…or at least not for a very long time.
This invitation to see the real them happens most often when I visit people in their homes. It’s honestly one of the best parts of my job, even though I don’t do it nearly as often as I should. I enter their homes full of furniture and stories. Kitchens where thousands of meals have been made, tables around which family and friends have cried, laughed and had hearts broken, stools and chairs that have welcomed countless strangers and friends alike. It feels like I enter the museum of people’s lives and it is such a gift.
Also people feed me and it is awesome! I will be greeted with a cup of coffee (an absolute life-line) and some surgary treat, to which I of course partake because it’s the polite thing to do! Then after we get comfortable and do our regular chit-chat about the weather, church and failure of all humanity, the tone will shift. I might just be asking questions about how they fell in love, what they did as parents, etc. and people simply open up. This. This is the ultimate privilege: to hear people’s stories and to realize all over again the holiness of the everyday moments and decisions that make up our lives.
In reading “Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing” I was able to sit in Hilary Steven’s home with all her furniture, pictures, cocktails and treats and just hear her stories and life’s reflections. Much of what she spoke about, reminisced and remembered was incredibly profound and thought provoking but at the end of the day I was sharing space with a woman at the end of her life and letting her speak her truth.
Our lives matter in their largeness but even more importantly in their minuteness. The day to day actions, relationships and choices that make up our days are holy and it is enough to simply sit in the stories that make up our lives and the lives of others. Remember to take time to hear the stories of those every day folks who have come before. Value your own stories in all their glory and minutia and if you want to sit in the living room with a really interesting woman pick up May Satron’s “Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing,” it won’t disappoint.