Why Was I At Church?14 months ago a friend referred me to the NonWorking Networkers of Westminster Presbyterian Church. The Networkers are an all-sectarian group, part of the church's outreach. The Networkers group has provided emotional and physical sustenance to me and my family. One of the Networkers activities is to join the church in packing food for Christmas for local needy. The packages are picked up and distributed by Rockford area social service agencies. This year I brought Little Suzy with me to help pack.
It's Good To Help.Packing started at 8 AM, coffee and doughnuts at 7:30 AM. We arrived at 7:40 AM. Little Suzy was excited about packing food for the needy and really, really excited to begin with a doughnut. Suzy is too young for coffee (and I'm a coffee snob/sissy) so we brought our own drinks, hot cocoa and a mocha.
At 8 AM the chairperson, Sadie, gave a brief overview of the packing procedure. Both hands are necessary for the assembly line so I ducked out and put the mugs Little Suzy and I had brought on the shelf over our coats. Pastor Pasteur offered an invocation and the packing began.
Daddy, Where Is My Coat?Westminster has run this project for a number of years so the packing went quickly. In under an hour 300 packages were assembled and it was time to go home. Suzy and I went to get our coats, but Suzy's coat was gone. We both looked in all sections of the coat area, but the coat wasn't anywhere. While looking for Suzy's coat, I heard another woman describing her purse which was apparently stolen, too.
I found Sadie and told her about Suzy's missing coat. She apologized profusely and took my name and a description of the coat. Suzy and I returned to the packing area to wait, in case someone had accidentally put on Suzy's coat. While waiting, Pastor Pasteur found Suzy and me. Pastor Pasteur apologized and made sure the church knew how to reach me. As more people left the church, it was obvious the coat would not reappear. Suzy and I looked through all the coat areas one more time but didn't find her coat. I put my coat on Suzy (tried for a picture but as a young clothes horse Suzy wasn't buying) and we drove home.
The Day Improves.We got home, told Mario and I texted Mommy at work. Suzy kept it together at Westminster, but once home the tears flowed. Little Suzy was a bit overwhelmed by her coat getting stolen, from a church, while packing food for the needy. I explained that someone must have really needed that coat and Suzy accepted the explanation. Suzy and I settled in. I figured we would be going for a winter coat when Mommy's work day concluded.
Within the hour the house phone rang. It was Sadie arranging to deliver a gift card to replace Suzy's coat. While talking to Sadie, the head of the Nonworking Networkers called my cell phone to tell me the church wants to replace Suzy's coat. In the ensuing conversation, it was obvious that at least two people from the church wanted to arrange for Suzy's coat. I made sure the church Deacons weren't duplicating effort and made arrangements to pick up the gift card from Sadie as our house was not receiving guests on Saturday. Before Suzy and I reach the car to go to Sadie, the friend that had sent me to the Nonworking Networkers called for Little Suzy. Our friend wanted to apologize to Little Suzy for the theft of her coat and make sure Little Suzy wasn't overwhelmed by the experience. Suzy had made peace with the theft of her winter coat and how could she be overwhelmed with so many people working to make things right?
The Coat.When we arrived at Sadie's, Sadie had the gift card and a pair of peace sign earrings. The earrings were the perfect size for Suzy's ears and Little Suzy loves peace signs. Mommy took Suzy to Kohls (biggest sale of the season) and was able to get her the exact same coat. Grandma and Grandpa told Mommy to get a backup coat, on them. Upon hearing the story of the stolen coat, the clerk at Old Navy took 10% off the purchase of the back up jacket Grandma and Grandpa bought. Back at home, Suzy modeled both coats and started talking about going back to Westminster next year to pack Christmas food packages.
Lessons.If you have ever chaired a major project you understand the adrenaline rush to completion and the ensuing crash when finished. Once the project is over you either want to unplug or write the evaluation then unplug. Sadie on her own behalf and that of the church didn't do that. Once Sadie and Pastor Pasteur had overseen the distribution of the food packages to the various social service agencies, they checked the church once more for Suzy's winter coat. Then Sadie bought a gift card, found my phone number and put the rest of day on hold while waiting for me to pick up the card. Sadie also found the earrings, providing immediate gratification for Suzy.
Have you ever been on hold for 35 minutes reporting an outage to Comcast (or pick a company)? After you lose service for 3 1/2 hours ever had Comcast reduce your bill by $1.37 but only because you stayed on hold another 35 minutes the next day? Do you think Comcast (or pick a company) could learn a thing or fifty from Sadie and the hierarchy of Westminster Presbyterian Church?
Thank You.I was reminded of a couple of lessons by Sadie's reaction to the theft of Suzy's coat.
- For every creepy story that gets tagged to organized religion, there is at least one good story left untold. So I told this story.
- When you think something is the right thing to do, the right time to do the right thing is right now. It may still be right to do the right thing tomorrow, but it's righter to do the right thing today.