Listen to this post:
The first time, I was a bit nervous. I hadn't yet met many of these parents. What if they have no idea what I am calling about? What if they hang up on me? Yell at me? Don't answer?
Get a grip, I told myself then. You were, afterall, a reporter and called strangers ALL of the time. Not just strangers, but important, intimidating people and you always more than ambled through those calls. You often had friendly conversations. Remember when your husband overheard once and asked how long you'd known the person on the other end? A half hour, you replied. Instant phone rapport: one of your gifts. Why should this be any different? Because this matters more; this isn't a job, it's a calling. So get CALLING!
That's pretty much how it began. It never hurts that I start in the order in which the kids came to Artsy Fartsy. Always, Layla and Justice, sisters, first. I remember the drive up the hill from my house, into the Oakbrook parking lot. How I pulled out the beautifully printed yard signs announcing this new program and art-filled afternoon of registration. Layla was right there, reading the sign, bobbing up and down with excitement. "When? When? When?" she asked.
She, her dad, and sister, were the FIRST in line (as if there were a line, more of a slow trickle throughout the afternoon), Right on the dot at one o'clock.
So I start with Brandon first. I consistently catch him live on the phone. "Oh, yes, they will be there!" He's one caring dad, ensuring his girls make the most of their opportunities. He never fails to thank me for the program. Even wished out loud that he could volunteer to drive, but, at the time, his car wasn't running and he couldn't afford to get it fixed.
This week, I didn't catch Marilyn, Emijah's grandmother. We had quite a talk, getting acquainted over two of her granddaughters on that August registration afternoon. She's called me just to chat and I've bumped into her at Kroger's. Or Anjela's mom. A recording said the phone was no longer in use. This has happened before when parents can not afford the minutes. So, I asked another mom to check for me, though I may have to see for myself.
A few hours after I made my calls, this time disappointed to reach mostly voice mail, I answer my vibrating phone, unable to quickly recollect the familiar voice. "Did you call this number? she asks. "Oh, I made a bunch of calls for Artsy Fartsy a few hours ago and I'm sure I called you. "Oh, Miss Cathy, is that you?" "Yes, Nia, just reminding you about Saturday. You know your daughter was sassy this last time. I mean sassy as in fun. She's not so shy anymore." "Yeah, it takes her awhile to open up. And, yes, she knows it's this week."
I understand it's hard for the kids that it's once a month. It can seem like an eternity, even to me. That's one reason, midway through, I write them each a personal postcard. Parents usually mention on the reminder calls that the sons and daughters loved getting the mail. I feel it's a good way of nurturing the child by remarking on the exceptional project they completed last time, the way they helped another child or how much I enjoy their energy. When I have made similar comments to the parents about their child, I see that it buoys them as well.
This chore has really become prayerful and so filling for me. Plus, it builds the anticipation in my heart as I look forward to seeing these amazing creatures in two days. Sometimes I can hardly stand it ... waiting. Fortunately, there are a myriad of tasks to complete before they bounce off the van, up the stairs and into Artsy Fartsy every second Saturday afternoon.
But, always, two days before, the date – Thursday, late afternoon – is permanently etched on my heart's calendar.
• When has an ordinary task taken on a prayerful dimension?
• How have I witnessed that transformation?
• How does that influence other areas of my life?
• How do I own it?
• How does it connect me more deeply to others and also Spirit?
not even a
a device between
me and the other
at times, I
leave a message
is when I reach
a live heart
as a reminder