Where David Plays the Tambourine

For the last two months on Wednesday nights I wasn't able to attend Freedom Fellowship. (For new readers Freedom is a community associated with my church that worships, feeds and does life together with the poor in our town.) For the last eight weeks Jana and I had been attending a class with our son Aidan at Highland's main building, a class for eighth-graders and their parents.

The class with Aidan was great. But spiritually I was aching to get back to Freedom. Without Freedom I was feeling a bit lost and disconnected from God.

But last week I was back. It was good to stand in the dinner line. Good to break bread again with friends, new and old. Good to be back worshiping with people who dance in the aisles. Good to hear the tambourine. Good to give people a ride home after church.

And about that tambourine. It's David's tambourine. David is an older member at Freedom who is quite a character. Now I'm a man who likes jewelry. I often wear three rings. But David wears a ring on every finger. All ten fingers. And he adds to that bunch of chains around his neck. David is his own man and he has his own style. And as someone who also pushes fashion boundaries--like those overalls I wear--I love David's flair.

Regarding the tambourine, David brings a dove-shaped tambourine to the Freedom services and he loves to use it, banging it on his thigh through the songs. While there are times when I can't tell if it's David or the drummer who is setting the rhythm for us, much to the chagrin of the drummer I expect, David's driving tambourine beat is one of the most distinctive aspects of worship at Freedom. That dove-shaped tambourine ringing out ching-ching-ching-ching...

Before worship it was also good to help clean up after dinner. I like to do the dishes, but Robert wasn't there so someone needed to mop the floor of the dining room. I told Sister Beth I'd do it.

Once the dishes were done we put all the chairs on the tables. Everyone left to go to the worship service. I filled the mop bucket with soap and hot water.

As I mopped the floor alone I heard the praise band begin and the singing start up, warmly pulsing through the walls. Along with that distinctive ching-ching-ching.

I'm writing this because I was so, so happy mopping that floor. I spend a lot of my life being "Dr. Richard Beck." Lecturing in front of large classes. Author. Speaker. Host of a popular blog.

But here's the thing. I always feel this vague ache when I'm in those roles or situations. A hollowness. Not sure what this feeling is exactly, but it's there.

But mopping that floor? The ache dissipates. The hollowness is filled with a relaxation and sweetness. A self-forgetfulness.

And to be clear, I am aware that this is a movement, given my social location, that will be unique to my spiritual development. Given my location, I'm supposed to be stepping away from spotlights, to be the anonymous guy mopping the floor, so that others can have a share of the light.

And here's another thing. I don't experience this as a sacrifice, as form of self-mortification or an act of charity or service. I enjoy mopping the floor. The quietness, the slosh of the water, the swish of the mop, the shiny floor, and the sounds of my brothers and sisters singing and swaying in the aisles. It fills my soul.

I don't think I'll ever drop out of view. I think I'm doing good with what I'm doing, the writing and speaking stuff.

But if I ever do drop out of view I want you to know where you can find me.

I'll be worshiping where addictions are our demons and where the saints smoke after church. I'll be singing where we come in wheelchairs or wearing ankle monitors. I'll be standing in line to eat donated soup with the homeless and the poor.

I'll be worshiping where they raise their hands and dance in the aisles.

I'll be mopping the floor where David plays the tambourine.

--photo of Freedom dining room just before I'm about to mop

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4 thoughts on “Where David Plays the Tambourine”

  1. You are putting into practice the kenosis model. Thanks for being a reflection of Christ in your life and sharing that image with all of us.

  2. Thanks Katie. Hey, Jana and I are going to be in Boston the weekend of October 14-15. I'm speaking at Boston University. I hope we can connect while we're in town. Jana, at least, while I'm engaged might like a friend to, I don't know, go to knitting stores or bookstores or get a cup of tea somewhere.

    Know anyone who likes that sort of thing?

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