Today, during my docent shift, there was a wedding rehearsal in the Art Hall. I am so in love with weddings that I even find rehearsals wonderful. The acoustics in the Art Hall are lovely and after a few bars of Pachabel Canon in D Major, I was reaching for my handkerchief. That’s how deeply wired I am for these ceremonies of connection, commitment, and love.
This is a wonderful metaphor for the experience of our time here at Koreshan State Historic Site. It has been a time of creating new connections with fellow volunteers here in the park, re-connecting to old friends living in the area, connecting deeply with members of my dear family who shared part of the Christmas season with us. It has been a time of understanding commitment to the work of a docent and tour guide, even on the days when there were few visitors or there were skeptical visitors. It’s the commitment to take the bike ride or the morning walk when the coolness of T2 seems more appealing than a sticky Florida morning. It’s a time of deepening commitment to each other as fellow pilgrims when one of us gets lost in the mire of life. It has been a time of seeing the incredible richness of this journey – of falling in love with the life we have been given.
Every day as a docent or a tour guide has been one of instruction in what I have been given. Two days ago there was the bus tour from Omaha with a tour guide who chastised her elderly passengers for needing to use the bathroom when they were ten minutes off schedule. Really. There was the couple with the tempestuous ten-year old who tried jumping off the rocking chair on our 112-year old historic front porch. Are you kidding? Or the guest who only wanted to know how the community “punished” a member who “broke the rules”. I am getting instruction in patience and careful listening and detachment.
And there are the elements of synchronicity in which guests who have driven by the park for years, picked the day I was on duty to visit. It’s become a commitment to look for ways to connect with them. How can I send them off with a new appreciation for this historic gem of a place and for the idiosyncratic settlement founder who backfilled his theology with “facts” that supported it, in a universal quest to find purpose and meaning in the all-too-fleeting time we have on this earth?
Yesterday was a day of surprising grace. During our monthly volunteer meeting at the settlement, the ranger ended the meeting by announcing the next meeting date (in February) and said, “there are two new volunteers who won’t be with us in February”, and with that she thanked Peter and me for our time here and invited us to meet with her, “and let me know when you can come back next year”. We hadn’t expected this and it was a moment of grace as we consider what may lie ahead for us.
The uncertainty of that future comes full circle as I listen to the wedding rehearsal as the soon-to-be newlyweds do the dry run of a commitment ceremony called a wedding. We simply don’t get to see what lies ahead – in a marriage, in a volunteer job, in a cross-country trip, or in life. All we can do is show up every day and state our intention to be honest, to be full of integrity, to be open to the call to be gentle and loving and forgiving. We don’t know how many days we will be tired, or worn down, or exhausted and when that will feel like an insurmountable struggle. Uncertainty and mystery and faith in love.
We leave here in just two weeks, transforming ourselves from resident volunteers with a single address back into pilgrims heading west, crossing the country with one and two night stops in our 2,300 mile journey to Arizona, and then California. Yes, every day I am falling in love with the life I have been given, all over again. And today, the joy is in hearing it all unfold with Pachabel Canon in D Major as the soundtrack.
Peter and Liz luxuriate in their three-month stay in Florida in their Airstream, where the weather has been sublime, the volunteer work has been enriching, the family reunions precious, and life has been very good.