The Divine is in the Details, I Think…

-Hannah Roberts, Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Elle Woods stands at the head of a long table in a conference room. At the table are her sorority sisters, all focused on their leader standing before them. “As president of my sorority, I am skilled at commanding the attention of the room and discussing very important issues,” says a voice over. “It has come to my attention,” Woods says sternly, “that the maintenance staff has been switching our toilet paper from Charmin to generic.” She takes a vote, and her sisters overwhelmingly vote to oppose this change. Another triumph of the democratic process.

This ironic scene from Legally Blonde, a cinematic masterpiece about a bubbly sorority girl from California determined to succeed at Harvard Law School, is meant to convey that the main character, Elle Woods, does indeed have the ability to conduct a meeting, even if the meeting’s subject seems trivial. I’m slowly beginning to realize that much of adulthood involves tending to seemingly trivial responsibilities.

As a recent college grad and chronically naive human being, I assumed that most of my time in “the real world,” whatever that is, would be spent doing things that seem important, and that contributing to the beloved community would feel exciting and exhilarating. In my first few weeks here at Grace-on-the-Hill, I am coming to accept that, more often than not, such lofty ideals involve a number of tedious details.

Please don’t misunderstand! I am thoroughly enjoying my time at the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, at St. Andrew’s, and at GOTH Manor, and I am so grateful to have such a wonderful opportunity to do meaningful work and live in community with such amazing and inspiring people. Somehow, though, I was expecting to set the world on fire every single day.

Perhaps an example might help illustrate my point. While developing our rule of life, my fellow GOTHs and I spent a lot of time discussing grocery lists and shower schedules. These are important details for the community to hammer out, but the hammering out process does not always mesh well with my tendency to focus solely on the big picture. Similarly, most of my time at the diocese involves attending meetings in which very important people discuss very important matters which, though it can be intimidating, always makes me feel like I am a part of something larger than myself. Sometimes, however, meetings turn to housekeeping items, like which lights to leave on at night or when not to turn off the coffeepots. These things need to be discussed in order to keep the office running smoothly, but I am acutely aware that these details do not set a fire in my blood. And that is okay. Discussing the merits of white bread versus wheat bread or brand name versus generic toilet paper is not particularly riveting for anyone, but it is a necessary part of life, and perhaps even a necessary step in building the kingdom.

I am learning to trust the process in hopes that making a few big decisions and lots of little ones will gradually add up to something important and meaningful, like a loving community or an effective diocesan administration. Ultimately, I think that’s how God moves: through the small, detail-oriented actions of many, to produce life-changing and life-giving results.

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