For the last few days of this week, around every table, conversation has turned to the interdependence of the Dodge Memorial Hall where we islanders dance at the Saturday night parties and the Grindstone Island United Methodist Church _ where we worship on Sunday mornings. The buildings are irrevocably knotted together by the crossroads that separate them. So I found it hard to believe that Mary Beers was reciting from the appointed lectionary reading for this July 10 when she read about King David's shameless leaping and dancing before the Lord as the ark containing the law was brought into Jerusalem.
When I asked her after church, Mary assured me that it was the appointed reading. Bob Smith affirmed it later when I called him to ask news of Debbie. (Bob is busy this summer preaching in Herkimer, and Debbie is home from Burundi with her son Robert. Her husband is back "at home" in Burundi. Burundi, is quite now, even though the Tutsi and Hutu are at odds in Burundi as well as in next door Rwanda, and even though two presidents have been killed in Burundi since last summer when Debbie was visiting on the island. She hopes to go back "home" soon to work with UNICEF orphans if the school really opens as promised. The horror of Rwanda may sober the tribes in Burundi. We pray so.)
Mary Beers, pulled together the two lectionary texts, (The one about David's wild dancing, the other about Salome's manipulative dancing before Herod which ended with the beheading of John the Baptist) by observing that both dancers needed to reconcile their public images with who they really were, with the persons God created. With our sharing of communion bread and wine, which was served by Marjorie Garnsey and Marjorie Mitchel, she asked us to remember and be nourished by the memory of God in Christ who shows us who we are. With that blessing, we all went out to learn to live lighting tongues of understanding among us all, many of us also remembering the children of God in Debbie Smith's adopted home, Burundi.
Saturday evening the turkey dinner was as much joy to eat as it was to prepare in the clean and newly-painted carriage house. The floor shined, and the turkey seemed to taste the better for it. Aleatha and Chris Williams and Marjorie Garnsey worked happily to help prepare the meal in the kitchen they had made look so bright with all the other people Who helped. Margaret Taylor and Manley Rusho did most of the planning and coordination and deserve our appreciation for a job well done. The auction, too, that "Doc" Schwartz presided over after dinner was a fun-time for everyone.
Then, after a short meeting of the church board to talk about how the church and the "Hall" can work even more closely together, some of the diners went across the road to dance to the music of disc-jockey John Morrow. And there, of course, they were joined by more of the young people on the island. We all sang "Happy Birthday" to Harry Slate, and he, in turn, drew John Cupemall's name for the 50-50 prize. There were children and more children on the dance floor early in the evening. Brandon Slate, one-year-old, danced a little jig, and Brittany, his older sister, joined the Donaldson girls and Jada Lashomb in a circling dance that took them all across the floor.
Elena, the doll Mary Beers had brought from Mexico, dressed in a Guatemalan-woven skirt was to be held fondly by the children who came to church the next morning, and the skirt reminded me of the fine textiles woven in the Clayton Craft School. I wondered if the children would do some weaving in Bible school. Thoughts of the craft school reminded me of the lovely exhibit now hanging in the school's hall: bird photographs, pastel drawings and woodcuts that Mimi and Phil Boyer produced during their many years on Whiskey Island. It is sad to have the boat house doors closed there. Mimi died this winter, and the family will remember her on July 22. We will all remember her and Phil as we live with their winsome owls and ducks and loons that hang on our own home walls. Mimi's longing for peace, for being at home with all life brought a quiet liveliness to each of her drawings, as if Teilhard de Chardin had a hand in whatever she did.
So thoughts of Mimi bring us back to a benediction for Debbie Smith and her husband "back home" in Burundi, and for all of us living on the river, learning to be comfortable with the goodness in us all.
Manley Rusho teaches Sunday school on July 17, the memorial service is next Sunday.
Margaret Taylor brought an exploding, untamed bouquet to church today whose tiger lilies and daisies bless us with the island's very own benediction.
So it is.