Free to a good home

You can’t beat free when it comes to live entertainment, friends.

Tyler and I were the free entertainment in our village last week, and it was a smashing success.

village sign
A limited amount of space on the village sign meant no first names and certainly not my pen name.

Our talk was advertised on the local village sign, which only the week before thanked the now-closed Mexican restaurant in town for their many years of good food. We felt like celebrities!

Tyler and I had a great time presenting “Church Sweet Home” at the behest of the local Library Friends. Fifty people showed up to hear some of the history we uncovered in the 127-year-old structure, some of the stories of the renovation, some before-and-after photos of the interior and some of our plans for the future of the building. I thought that was pretty good given the size of our new hometown. In the past, I gave a talk about organizing photos at local libraries all over northern Illinois, and most of the time, 10 or 20 people interested in getting control of their photo collections showed up. Fifty, usually only in a suburb close in to Chicago, was considered awesome!

My husband and I struggled a bit to condense our 16-month project that consumed nearly every waking second into a 45-minute presentation with 68 slides, but we figured it out and people said nice things afterwards, so we patted each other on the back and toasted ourselves with a shot of tequila when we got home. Tequila!

We also announced the open house for former church members, neighbors and contractors that we’re planning when we finish the details and smooth out the rough edges of our project. Mark your calendars for the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 15. You can see for yourself the quality of our work for just the price of one nonperishable food item per person. You might not know that the local Loaves & Fishes food pantry was founded right here in the basement of our church, and we’re honoring that community endeavor. We’ll collect food donations to give the food pantry, now located elsewhere in town.

If you were at our talk, thanks for your interest and your warm applause. We appreciate it!

Grant me the serenity

The internet is forever.

The former church we now call home once hosted meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous, and about twice a month, someone rings our doorbell about 7:30 in the evening asking about the weekly AA meeting.

“Nope, it’s not here anymore,” we say, conscious of the lack of anonymity represented by one of us standing in our open doorway. “AA meets at the church around the corner now.” And we offer directions to the nearby Congregational church.

We have had to admit our powerlessness over old Web listings that continue to show our address for Tuesday evening AA meetings. If it’s got “meeting,” “recovery” or “AA” in the web address, it might list our house as the meeting locale when you drill down in the search results.

That’s one of the weird things about living in a former church. What with the belfry and the church sign, which I still adore, we look like we might still be a church, so no one can be blamed for knocking on our door. No one has shown up for a Sunday morning sermon, but we’ve also had a couple of people drop by looking for the Loaves & Fishes food bank, which was once hosted in our basement. We give them directions, too, not nonperishables.

I don’t mind.

Those infrequent confused visitors are beautiful reminders that our home was once a hub in the community, a place where people met and extended their hands in support to each other.

The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.