This Saturday our parish has its Annual Fall Fair – a festive gathering with vendors, food, children’s activities, raffles, and other fall merriment. We are blessed with an 11-acre property, so the event is a wonderful way for us to welcome people to our grounds and remind the community that they are welcome here. Having done this event for so many years, most of our parishioners know what needs to be done – signs, publicity, donors, coordinating vendors, setting up the property, making baskets, bringing in donations. The list goes on. But even though we all know what needs to be done, there is usually a bit of anxiety and stress to make sure the event is a success, especially in the week leading up to the event. As someone who can become easily stressed, I totally understand the reaction. Though I am not involved in the execution of the event, I always empathize with our parishioners as the tension builds in this final week.
But this year, something has shifted. I do not know if it is due to their personalities or if they are being intentional in their behavior, but our co-chairs for this event are being the epitome of a non-anxious presence in the community. Don’t get me wrong, they have had plenty of reasons to become anxious: several key volunteers are unavailable this year, leading to some out-sourcing; the vendors are coming in a little more slowly; and we are trying some very different, new things this year. But the co-chairs seem to be rolling with the punches, creating solutions, and keeping their cool. And although the church is abuzz with activity, I sense that the non-anxious presence of the co-chairs is rubbing off on others. People are doing their assigned tasks, and there seems to be much less tension going into the event.
It is in moments like these when I am grateful to be in a community with a wide variety of gifts. Being a non-anxious presence is one of my primary goals in my role as pastor and priest in this community. I feel like that action alone reduces challenges significantly and enables the body to live out its ministry in a healthy and God glorifying way. But being non-anxious takes work and intentionality, and some days I exude that calm better than others. This week, I am grateful for parishioners who are serving as healthy role models, and who invite me to live into my call in a more healthy way.