December 14, 2011

What's Your Dirt Pile?

Like most kids, my son’s best friend has carefully crafted his Christmas list for Santa. A few Wii games made the cut, along with some Star Wars paraphernalia and Beyblades (don’t ask me – it’s some funky disc game that’s the current rage).

But the top of his list, his most-desired gift, is a surprise. He wants, he really, really wants, a dirt pile. 

His parents had their gravel driveway paved a few months ago, and the excavation created a 7-foot-tall mound of dirt. Like a bee to honey, it drew all the neighborhood children. They played war and captured the mountain. They dug for treasures and raced to the top. They left the pile reluctantly each night, with dusty knees and dirt-caked fingernails. But they were joy-filled, with the kind of tired that comes from the tricky mix of physical activity fueled by imagination.

I love that this delightful boy wants Santa to bring him a dirt pile for Christmas. It reminds me of my kids’ toddler days when the box and wrapping paper were far more interesting than the actual present, when pots and pans made suitable drums and blankets were fodder for family-room forts. 

His wish for a dirt pile makes me re-visit my Christmas list. What fills me with joy? What is my heart's desire? What is Christ calling me to be and do in this season of light?

I wonder too if congregations might look at their own Christmas list. They should resist the temptation to junior-warden the list – no wishes for new roofs or boiler systems. This wish list shouldn’t include some grandiose scheme to transform the congregation from 80-on-a-Sunday to busting-at-the-seams. That's an admirable (long-term) goal, but it's not this year's dirt pile. 

I’m inviting congregations to dig deeper, if you’ll pardon the pun. What brings joy? What fills the heart and stretches the soul? Music? Fellowship of a potluck dinner? The comraderie of wrapping Giving Tree gifts?

What is your dirt pile? 

Who knows? Santa, ahem, St. Nicholas, just might bring it.