Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down

Only it wasn't beer I had for breakfast, it was Dungeness Crab Benedict over at Neil's Clover Patch Cafe' in Bayview, a short distance away. Poor Kris---he never had it so good.

There's something decadent, when you're a minister, about not having to rush around on Sunday. Normally, we're timing everything so that we can get to the church to get things set up for worship, to reserve a few moments for quiet centering, setting aside a cushion of minutes for chatting with congregants, welcoming the folks at the door without looking as though we just rushed in at the last minute. On those mornings when we're not preaching or otherwise involved in worship, there's a sense of R & R about the day.

Neil's serves crab benedict every Sunday morning and one of my little luxuries in life is going over before the rush of tourists hits about 10 a.m. and savoring my newspaper and my meal along with the other locals who congregate for coffee and conversation. I don't usually go to Neil's on a day when I'm preaching, now that I'm living on the island. I save that pleasure for a day when I have no other responsibilities but to take care of myself.

This morning, it gave me an extra thrill to have the server say to me, as she brought the coffee, "you want your regular crab benedict this morning?" "yep," I answered, "with scrambled, not poached." "Right!" she said with a grin and hustled off.

I'm reminded of the old Cheers theme song which had the line "where everyone knows your name". It feels good to be recognized as a regular somewhere. It feels good to make connections, find acceptance, experience a sense of belonging. Over the past year and a half, as I've started putting down little roots into the island, I'm finding these connections outside of my congregation, as well as within it.

There's the storekeeper in Langley whom I see at a regular folk jam at the library who sings harmony with me on the old songs. There's the dog Molly at another shop who now recognizes my scent and no longer barks at me. There's the fact that I have bought enough books at Moonraker to qualify for discounts and have the owner recognize me when I come in. There's the bagger at the grocery store who asks about my cats. There's seeing friends at the beauty shop, at the bagelry, at ACE hardware. Making connections with those who form the real infrastructure of the island community helps me feel like I truly belong here, that I am not just a mainlander goofing off.

And I wonder---is it like this for people who come to our congregations to visit? Do we make them feel like tourists or like potential "belongers"? Some people really are just visitors; they're from out of town and won't likely return often. Others are looking for a place to belong.

My home congregation, Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, Colorado, has produced a wonderful resource for UU congregations entitled "Welcoming the Newcomer". It's a DVD workshop with three main segments: "Repelling Fewer Visitors", "From Newcomer to New Member" and "Closing the Revolving Door". It also includes a wonderful sermon by my colleague the Rev. Gail Geisenhainer. The DVD is free from JUC and I highly recommend it to any congregation looking for membership help. We are going to have workshops here this fall to which we will invite every member of the congregation, as hospitality is the job of every congregant.

Today I'm meeting a friend in Langley to see the Choochokam Arts Festival and then will walk onto the ferry to meet a young couple in Mukilteo for their final wedding consultation before their wedding in a few days. Such a lovely way to spend a Sunday---crab benedict, art, and young love. Does anyone else in the world have it so good? Poor Kris.

15 comments:

laura said...

Hi Ms. Kitty! I thought of you quite fondly on the way to church this morning... NPR's Splendid Table did a segment on Whidbey Island (oh heavens.. did I spell it right?) and the wonderful culinary delights to be found there. I fell in love all over again and want to come back for a dedicated visit to your little slice of heaven (last time I was in your neck of the woods I never made it to the islands). ::smooches:: and wonderful thoughts!

Joel said...

You really are getting hooked on the small-town life, aren't you?

Christina Martin said...

That's it, I am going to have to stop reading your blog on an empty stomach!

Jamie Goodwin said...

Quite a few of us at my home church (UU Church of Akron, OH) have the JUC dvd and we have tried to incoporate a lot of what is on there. To some mixed results.

The problem isn't with th DVD or what it offers as much as buy in, and our tendency to zoom off in 2 or 3 directions at once.

Still, I love many of the changes we have made and I love Gail's sermon from last year's GA.

ms. kitty said...

Well, you are all welcome to come visit me. I'll take you to Neil's for crab benedict!

LinguistFriend said...

What to say after all of that? Gail was our (memorable) minister for a while at Emerson Unitarian Church in Canoga Park, CA (west San Fernando Valley), and I regret missing her service at GA last year. Probably she is the only UU minister who saw the light while driving a snowplow in Maine instead of on the road to Damascus. I guess that I have to get the JUC DVD.
LinguistFriend

ms. kitty said...

And you can get the DVD for free, just by contacting the staff at JUC.

Joel said...

And as long as you're making Kris Kristofferson references, it could be argued that crab benedict constitutes the best of all possible worlds.

Mile High Pixie said...

Repelling fewer visitors? Baahahaa! I just love that for some reason! Isn't it great to be known ina small place? Even in my big town, I love being recognized by the gal behind the counter at our nearby Chipotle. It's a part of one's sense of community.

Jane R said...

Who's Kris?

Miss Kitty said...

I am glad someone besides me knows who Kris Kristofferson is. Bless the Colonel for turning me on to his music.

ms. kitty said...

Who's the Colonel?

Jane R said...

Oh, Kris Kristofferson! I know who he is. I just didn't see his last name in your post.

Now I'm showing my age ;-)

Miss Kitty said...

Ms. K: The Colonel (retired Army LTC) is the real love of my life. Our relationship of 4-1/2 years ended last year. [sigh] But I try to take good things with me fromt he whole thing, and try not to remember the bad.

ms. kitty said...

I'm glad you've had that love, even if he's gone now. I know what that's like. It happened to me too.