Confessions of a Church Lady in Charge
It is August and I am going through bags of donated clothing, pulling and folding items in the hot, humid basement of this nearly century-old church with my fellow church ladies. The smell of damp wood and mothballs hangs in the air all around us. We are each deeply immersed in our own thoughts. I’m secretly pledging this will be the LAST time I volunteer to run the church rummage sale.
The silence is broken when a fellow volunteer holds up a pair of shorts and says to me, “I recognize these, didn’t they belong to your daughter?” I smile and acknowledge ownership of the bag with a nod just as the woman reaches in and pulls out a huge pair of my old maternity underwear. She holds them up with two hands at arms length and tilts her head quizzically. They are so thread-bare and tattered that the elastic is exposed through the frayed waistband. She turns to me with a grin and says, “Are you sure you’re ready to part with these, Lori?” With that, we both dissolve into laughter as I rush to grab the rest of the family “rag bag” that was bound for the trash before my daughter obviously topped it off with her rummage sale donations.
Over the course of weeks working together, we church basement ladies alternate between pursed-lipped irritation to outright admiration for each other daily. Mostly, we exchange good-humored ribbing and share lots of laughter as we sift through treasures unwittingly donated. They are often hidden among long forgotten memories at the bottom of water-stained boxes. Like the tiny, U.S. flag slipped into the pages of an empty baby book by a young mother of twins in 1930. Or the worn photo of a serious, sepia-toned couple that fluttered from the pages of Paradise Lost.
As grueling as the long days of setting up the sale are, we genuinely enjoy the actual sale. Friends and strangers delightfully discover treasures, and shoppers visit on the church patio, sitting on the the donated couches and chairs that have been fashioned into an outdoor living room under bright blue skies.
When two very, very elderly gentlemen shoppers comment with a wink that of all the rummage sales they’ve been to, ours has the best lookin’ church ladies, hands-down, my heart opens wide to the sweetness of it all. I see it is true, what Rumi said, there are indeed hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground when we bring the beauty of what we love, into what we do.
So euphoric am I at the end of the sale that I am thinking, well maybe I’ll volunteer just one more time next year . . .
There is so much divinity in the everyday.