Rev It Up
reflections on faith and life
Rev. Kathryn Timpany,
First Congregational UCC, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
September 12, 2012
When I was about 6 years old, Santa brought me a baton for Christmas. It was silver and shiny with white rubber ends, and sat solidly and well-balanced on my outstretched hands. I loved learning to float it in figure-eights and toss it in the air and catch it one-handed, but unlike my best friend Marilyn I never did learn to catch it behind my back. (That kind of talent deficit probably had something to do with the fact that she ended up becoming homecoming queen in high school while I found my place playing the clarinet in the marching band.)
Which leads me to tell you that my favorite story of the week is about Betty Lambert of Harmony, Pennsylvania. She is 79 years old and still marches in her home-town parades, during which she often stops and does the splits. “She gave up cartwheels recently, but still twirls knives, and fire-batons when it isn’t windy.” Clare Ansberry reports in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.
The story continues: “Ms. Lambert, who threw a baton when she was in high school, then married and had children, took the sport up again in her 40s after seeing a small classified ad in the newspaper looking for people who wanted to start a marching band. The group called itself the Resurrection Band because members resurrected their instruments from attics. Ms.Lambert didn’t play an instrument but offered majorette services. Cartwheels and baton twirling are like riding a bike, she found. ‘You don’t forget’.”
She also has 41 costumes she likes to wear when she rides on floats. One of her daughters, who watched her mother march as she grew up remarks, “I thought this would be a phase she would go through.”
Besides all the smiles this story elicits, there is this little tidbit as well: Betty is a beautician and she continues to cut hair and give permanents in the little salon attached to her house. And “she makes house calls to her customers who no longer drive.”
She makes house calls. Of course she does.
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy might be full.”
Jesus of Nazareth said that a long time ago. Some of us, all these years later, are still trying to learn the way of life that he modeled. I have noticed that some of us who call ourselves Christians seem to have missed out on the joy part. I ponder that often. I wonder why it seems to be so hard for some to receive that gift of joy that Jesus offered.
I have no idea whether Betty Lambert is a Christian, or whether she professes any faith at all. But she has figured out what joy is all about, and if Jesus were to show up in the crowd cheering her on from the sidelines, I suspect he would be smiling and thinking, “Ah, someone gets it!”
Betty has figured out that joy has something to do with refusing to relinquish your childhood delights, and even more to do with being willing to make house calls on those who are in danger of losing the pleasure from their own as the process of aging encroaches.
It also helps to be extraordinarily limber, which is something we can all learn at a soul level even if our bodies won’t cooperate any more.
…may your joy spill over into the sorrowing world…