There are fewer flaneur days when you are on a mission that’s when you’re not. When you are ramped up and on the approach march to the big mountain, you should expect a few days marked by holy exhaustion. Yesterday was one of those for me — lots of holy, a bit of exhaustion.

That is because yesterday my team and I hosted around 325 people at the REFINERY Church for the opening of our new courtyard venue. We celebrated together with some rocking worship music, told stories of mighty deeds of generosity, then ate — carne asada, beans, rice, toasted peppers, green onions and radishes. That was some fun and tasty work.

Afterwards I was exhausted, so I went home and took a nap — in extremis; in excelsis; requiescat in pace. 

I’ve been noticing largely that not much good is accomplished by a group without a big effort  — and lots of good will. At the REFINERY we have had the good will, and we always do the necessary work, then it seems that we get more good will.  A few weeks ago, just when we were in need of some wood chips for a large area of landscape, just when I was about to order them from a local nursery for a good bit of money — 23 cubic yards! — a tree trimming company called me.

“Do you want some wood chips,” the voice on the phone asked. I was confused. Who was this and why were they calling me. Then it came out. Six months ago I had registered online for chips from this company and today they were in the area —  which they seldom were —  and they wanted to get rid of about 30 cubic yards of chips, “very clean, not many leaves or branches.”

I got my head around it, then said, “Yeah, bring  ’em over!” They were free! Then the work began, to wheel barrow them into place and rake them out. And it was like that, right up to the opening of the courtyard — favor and flavor, work and more work — no shirk. We worked hard and made final preparations: wood chips, white roses, green passion vines, jasmine, orange marmalade bushes, blue lobelia. It was our inspired effort at a garden of Eden pastiche.  We splashed on the color, then we added the chairs, the shade canopies, then the most beautiful thing of all — the people! And ah, how they graced the holy courtyard.

Toward the end of the preparation process, when I was running on fumes, a friend in the church approached me and said, ” I saw you didn’t get all the chips in the yard; would you like for me to come finish that?” I love people like that! The hardy ones, the willing grunts,  the glad-to-be-exhausted ones — they shine!

I’ve sometimes thought of how much work it takes to put on a play at a theater — writing the play, rewriting it , memorizing the lines, practicing, building the set, props, costumes, putting together the  music, the lighting. And yet, people do it, they put on plays, they overwork, push themselves, and produce amazing and inspiring performances.

I like that. I’m not good with sitting around. I want to put on the play, turn on the lights, set out the signs and celebrate the beauty and the goodness of life.

Monday morning, the day after our event, post-worn out, I received a text from someone who was at the REFINERY celebration but doesn’t usually go to church. It said, “My wife and I left feeling lighthearted and optimistic. When is your usual weekend celebration?”


One person’s holy exhaustion —  it can give another person a light heart.

That makes it all worth it!



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