Thursday, May 26, 2005

Pet Day...

Shoulder to shoulder we stood. Each of us looked out into a sea of eager 5-year olds. It was pet day in Eryn’s class and three dad’s - including me - were proudly holding our charges. I looked down the line and I couldn’t help but feel intimidated by the exotic competition.

“whoooa” the gasps were tangible as Emmie’s Dad explained how Emmie’s python ate mice; Brogan’s Dad went next and showed the sucked out locust carcass that their pet tarantula had devoured. Then it was my turn.

“so … Eryn’s Daddy… what does your pet eat?”

I look at a content Fluffy in my hands. Eryn nods with enthusiastic encouragement from the sea of faces. I smile hopefully.

“Well mostly cabbage leaves…”

“…r---ight…!”

I don’t fare any better with the second round of questions – frankly a hutch in the garden didn’t have the same impact as “…specially heated aquarium…” or “a sub terrainian arachnodrome” As I look down the line –I can’t but help feeling a little pathetic, pitiable – a kind of being underdressed feel. I can’t help but feel a little jealous for the exotic. I can’t help but feel I wish Fluffy was more than she was – a guinea pig, a bit more exciting.

“so children who would like to hold one of the pets?... Make a queue in front of the animal you want to hold”.

Funny how popular Fluffy was then – she might only eat cabbage leaves and live in a hutch in the garden but when it comes to feeling safe with she was unanimously the top attraction. When it comes to engaging with something you know is not going to bite you she was up there. When it comes being secure and non-threatening Sally the snake and Trevor the Tarantula were left in Fluffy’s wake.

Funny how as church we so often look down the line at other churches and feel rather insignificant. Hankering after an em. church; alt. church; a dot abbreviation identity. Chasing after trends. Eager to buy into whatever the latest ‘shake and stir model’ of church is on the market. Buying the winning missional method in a DVD discussion pack.

Here’s what I walked home thinking perhaps it is ok to be simply - church. Perhaps it is ok to try and present a non-threatening community, secure environment where people feel safe. Perhaps a challenge for the emerging church is to keep their environment of creativity such that it doesn’t alienate those that fear its bite.

5 comments:

Kathryn said...

Lovely story,beautifully told, Gordon....and your inferences from it are pretty good too :-)
Thanks x

Bill said...

The biggest challenge is creating a place for those who have already been bitten. If a person has been bitten by a dog they usually develop a bit of fear next time they encounter one.

Listeningear said...

Interesting really isnt it. we took one of our ladies who has had a real long journey to recovery with us to a combined Corps event at one of the big trendy Corps nearby on Sunday PM - I thought she will love this, she probably wont want to come back to us after being exposed to the best. Well, she walked in the door and shrivelled, she explained that she felt so out of place... So you are right comfortable and safe outweights exotic and flash.

Great words Gordon.

Glenda

Sister said...

An elderly Quaker saint once told me, when looking at a community, look for the dark side – for who is getting hurt, and how. Ask how the community is facing its dark side, and how it is handling it. That is the measure of the life-transforming holiness of a community. Not what happens when everything goes right, or its growth, or vision, or innovation, or radical edge.
I think the key to making communities safe is the willingness to look at the dark side, and face it together, and work healing strategies, sometimes for years afterwards, into the old wounds left in hurt individuals by the inevitable dark side - that can mean seeking them out, taking the initiative, and requires maturity and a willingness to commit time.

Helen said...

I was teaching some students this week, among them some nurse managers. We were talking about how difficult it is to combine subjective and objective perspectives into decision-making. They said the consultants described the non-scientific work they did as 'fluffy'. They found it hard to argue for its status but they knew that without it the patients wouldn't get better.
I'll tell them about your experience when I teach them next week.