Someone always has to be the last one out of the building.
It’s not always the same person, though. We almost all know how it feels by now. The building is familiar, and yet … when I’m the last one, it feels a lot bigger, a lot emptier, a lot quieter.
It’s not even always one person.
Take this Sunday. A long day. The Sunday school lesson was challenging – Amos 5. Actually, all our lessons focus on repentance and the minor prophets in the weeks ahead; probably intentional, to coincide with Lent. The sermon centered on Jesus in the wilderness, preparing for his upcoming ministry by enduring solitude, vulnerability, uncertainty, and facing the temptation all that makes more acute, and gave us a lot to think about. [Just one of those things: In the course of this discussion, our pastor noted that Jesus would not take shortcuts to any of the necessary or desirable goods offered to him in wilderness by the Tempter … leading to the recognition that indeed, Eve did fall for the attractiveness of a shortcut … hmm.]
The class after worship was reading and discussing Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown, as part of our congregational commitment to the Golden Rule 2020 project. We are all trying to get more adept at civility and, ideally, productive conversation across lines of disagreement. Today the focus was on “speaking truth to bullshit” and recognizing our connections with strangers in the face of collective joy and pain. We agreed that sometimes, a lot of times, what people really need when they’re grief-stricken is for someone to just sit with them. Not words. Definitely not “cheering up.” Being there.
Finally, however, that one remaining task from the Cajun Dinner still had to be confronted: cleaning up the last pot of chicken broth, which had been sitting in the refrigerator since last week, and which no one had wanted for making chicken soup in the coming months. Not a big task, or an impossible one, but definitely a lot easier and a lot less onerous when a couple of other people hung out and lent a hand, and we shared stories from years past while skimming fat and pouring off broth and washing the pot and setting it out to air dry.
Then we checked all the doors and turned out the lights and set the security system alarm and stepped out into the parking lot and into a wonderfully mild, sunny day for the first day of March.
Someone always has to be the last ones out of the building.