People have been asking me all month how I’m going to finish my year of New Things, encouraging me to do something that would top everything else. But I’ve resisted the grand gesture. One of the points of this project has been to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. I wanted something quieter and more reflective.
So I thought it would be appropriate to end this phase of the project by going to a service at a Quaker Friends Meeting House, using it as an opportunity to meditate on the past year.
After all, who’s more quiet and reflective than the Quakers?
I chose the meeting closest to my house, which I was amazed to discover sits across from my godchildren’s school. I must’ve passed it hundreds of times without noticing it. I’ve even parked in the church lot when I’ve picked them up. As with so many other experiences this year, I suddenly saw something that’s been hiding in plain sight for years. And, as I arrived, I saw myself differently, someone I’ve never been before—a skinny blond guy with mascara left over from last night’s party. I like being that guy.
I suppose I should have done some research as it turned out that this is a relatively noisy Quaker congregation. Not only do they only do about 15 minutes of the open silent worship but, due to the storm, the meeting had missed two Sundays, as well as Christmas Eve. Which meant we ended up lighting advent candles, singing numerous hymns with that distinctly Caucasian sense of rhythm practiced by all Protestants, and watching an original Christmas pageant based on the Nutcracker called the Nutquaker, featuring themes of non-violence and conflict resolution yet still ending with a nativity scene which featured the only Virgin Mary I’ve ever seen wearing rubber snow boots.
I loved it. And I loved that my plans didn’t work out. What better way to end a year of surprises?
As much as I reveled in the wonder of letting go of an expectation (and here I was worried about how I was going to handle all that silence), I returned home to a situation that allowed me to do the opposite by taking control. Now that the snow storm is over, Floyd and I tried removing the chains from my car, but managed to get one set stuck on an axel. My usual response would’ve been to call either AAA or one of my straight husbands, but instead we got out the manual and—get this—actually removed a tire. It’s true, Floyd and I have a combined age of almost 93, yet neither of us have ever dared to jack up the car and remove a tire.
The lug nuts were so tight I had to stand on the wrench to loosen them.
But we were victorious, which left us feeling strong and capable and ready for anything.
Which is the best kind of New Thing.
As for reflecting more on the project, check out Margie Boule’s profile on it in Sunday’s Oregonian, then come back tomorrow for my own wrap-up, as well as my announcement of my project for 2009.