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.