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Board meetings as grout

For a large portion of my professional career I managed a library cooperative.  The cooperative’s life blood was meetings; meetings to discuss when to offer ebooks; when to discontinue the 16mm rotating film collection; whether or not to charge fines.  You get the gist – lots of discussions about everything. 

graphic of bright yellow chalice with rainbow colored flame set against a blue background

Since my days were already full of agendas, I was judicious when agreeing to anything involving yet more meetings during my sparse personal time.  Even at church, I was selective.  I chose activities I deemed enjoyable although some might doubt my sanity since “fun” included three stints on a bylaws committee.  But, for the most part, I stayed on the sidelines of church governance.  I always offered tacit support by voting at every annual meeting but then, having voted, I stepped back and let the Board members do the work.  Until one Sunday (thank you Amy N.) when I realized I needed to do more. 

With the next election, I moved from the sidelines to the Board, first as member at large, then as secretary, vice president and most recently having been granted the privilege of serving as president for two years which, despite Covid challenges and wonky Zoom connections, a tenure that proved very rewarding.  And now, eight years after agreeing to have my name placed in nomination, I have handed the gavel to another and rejoined the sidelines of church governance.  Along the way I have grown spiritually, learned more sincerely about the impact of injustice, and felt supported in the hard work of striving for justice.

Several stanzas in a prayer entitled The Grout by Marcus Harlief capture my sense of purpose as I leave the Board:

. . . Religion not only lies in the beautiful mosaic bits and pieces but also in the grout – that chalky, gritty stuff squeezed between the cracks. . .  

In a mosaic, the grout holds the image together, unifying disparate pieces into a whole.  The grout of a community takes years to lay and settle.  Grout happens in board meetings and committee meetings and endless emails. . . 

And so we pray - Hold us, O Grout.  Gather us in, through time and space, and make all our broken pieces whole in community.  In our multiplicity, make us one.  From each of our jagged edges, give us the shape of a communal beauty.

Graphic credit: © Tony Baldwin

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