I am in month 2 of a reading course which will take about six months to complete. It will form the basic building blocks of the research for my MA thesis, which I hope to complete next summer. I have chosen a topic that is dear to my heart and that I believe I will enjoy learning about for a year, but some days, like today, I don't really feel like picking up a book on mysticism and taking notes. Today is one of those "just show up" days.
And that is worth more than we give it credit for in our present day and age. In fact, it is a rare thing in many ways. I was in a class a few semesters ago where about half the class did not show up on a regular basis. I don't know how they expected to do well, or maybe they didn't. One of the strong images from my childhood is the presence of my mother when I came home from school every day. For the most part, she didn't do anything special or amazing, but she was there every day, and that counted for a lot.
I have been doing an exercise regiment since I was in high school. I used to run a lot, but now I do different workouts 3 days a week. Some days I am full of energy and eager to punch, kick, and jump around for 30 minutes. Other days, I am tired and unmotivated, but I show up and do it anyway. I know that it helps me to enjoy excellent health and stamina, and most days, it makes me feel alive and strong. Dean is one of the most dependable people I know. He always shows up for people and lends a hand when asked. He goes to work every day, no matter how stressful the situation is or how unmotivated he feels. And he always comes home to me every night. Sad to say, divorce statistics reveal how unusual that can be.
I have been going to church gatherings all of my life. Sometimes it is exciting and sometimes it is rather uneventful. Sometimes it has even been painful. But I show up. Because showing up is important. I can't benefit from anything there if I don't show up. Over time, something gets built in me, even without my knowledge, when I regularly show up. I bring my happy or sad or motivated or lazy or hurting or tired or confused self to the table of God, and I partake to the best of my ability.
I know people who have taken a break from things, and I see how often they can't get back, or don't want to get back, or just slide into mediocrity. It happens with diets, exercise programs, resolutions to stop smoking, university classes, reading the Bible, praying, being part of Church, marriages, friendships, work, and learning a new skill. Many times the biggest battle is just to "show up." Showing up can be an act of worship. Showing up is the foundation of faithfulness. Showing up is always a vital part of something great over the long haul. I think of all the times I didn't want to practice the piano and just did it anyway. It all paid off.
There are times when I am tempted to take a break, but I have seen what a "break" does. It halts the process that has been begun in me. The process of transformation. And showing up is vital to transformation, to change, to growth, to maturity, and to loving. Let me show up for someone today. And let me keep on doing it.
And now, excuse me while I crack open another theology book and show up for my reading class.
This is a photo of LAX. If you don't show up at the airport, you can't go anywhere on a plane.