After a crowded and stress-filled week at work (I'll spare you), I was looking forward to LEM-ing in the 11:00 Palm Sunday Mass as a chance to recharge my batteries. Instead, I was late due to the re-routing of traffic resulting from yesterday's crane collapse. I missed the procession, and took a seat among the congregation. Quite frankly, I was livid with myself--I'd never been late to assist in any capcity in church services, and was blaming myself for letting down the Verger, the clergy and my fellow LEMs. After a few minutes of this, I spied the Verger in a cloister. I delicately stalked round the Church to avoid distracting from the service, and told him I was sorry to be late--and then asked if I should vest, or just sit this one out. He calmly said "vest."
As I was tying the cincture, my friend the Deacon came into the vesting room, and said hello. I muttered "Late. Crane collapse." He picked up the last part, and empathetically murmured, "Terrible thing. All those people hurt--and the ones who lost their homes." And then whisked away. (How like the Deacon to focus on the relevant issue--those hurt and suffering in the world.)
On my way back to join the LEMs, the Rector and I met, heading in different directions in a passage too narrow for both of us to pass at onece. I motioned him through, and he gave me a pleasant smile, and said simply, "Thanks, John."
I rejoined the others, and served. When I saw the Verger later, he cheerfully waved away my apology, saying "Happens to us all. Don't worry."
The only one angry at me had been me.
Silly story, isn't it? How easily we all can beat up ourselves for not meeting our own expectations of acceptable performance. Yet--a couple of years ago, I'd have let this ruin the service for me. I wouldn't have sought out the Verger, and asked if I could still be of use. I'd have seethed at my own mistake, possibly all day. I'm struck by how we disproportionately view our flaws and mistakes, showing ourselves no mercy, or sometimes blind to our own errors.
I think this is one reason Jesus tells us to "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Because, quite frankly, we lack the perspective, and the loving-kindness to do it well. All too often, and the last few weeks in the Anglican blogosphere have been a great example of this, we have seen anger drown out charity, compassion evicted by "righteous indignation." I have been guilty of this myself. Time for a change.
I'm going to try to raise my game a bit here. Like
Father Jones, I'm going to try to focus on some spiritual study points, exploring the classics that have drawn me in, and also thinking out loud about some issues that are forming me on my own journey. I hope to, when I do venture into the Great Unpleasantness of the Anglican mess, remember the need to show real charity--by engaging with understanding views that differ from my own, and not just thundering out my own opinions.
A blessed Holy Week to all.