The Pecking Order

Last night we had the ‘General Probe’ – dress rehearsal – for the World Women’s Day of Prayer Service tonight.  What I witnessed would have made any of my theater pals cringe.  There was no one Director.  There were eight!  At one point, the lady sitting next to me whispered, “How embarrassing!  Eight women and ten different opinions!”  It was quite comical.  Part of me wishes I had videotaped it because one couldn’t choreograph it any better.  Every time we started a new section of the service, someone would invariably say, “No, we should do it this way…” And the chatter would begin again.

Comedy aside.  I was impressed – for several reasons.  First, no one lost their temper – not once.  And even though the discussion was sometimes rigorous, it never dipped into meanness.  Second, they found a way to pass the baton.  There was a new leader chosen every ten minutes or so (who stayed in charge for three to five minutes).  I don’t think they even realized they were doing it.  I kept trying to notice what behavior it was that sanctioned the new leader.  Often it was the best idea, but sometimes it was just the confidence with which the idea was spoken.  A leader was swept aside by the introduction of a better idea from someone else.

Third, and best, what I was watching were eight professional household managers doing what they do best: orchestrating life.  Most of the women are well beyond retirement age.  They all clearly have mastered many life skills over the years – from unclogging drains to negotiating repair bills; from sleepless nights at the bedside of an ill child to screaming sessions about curfews; from burning meals to preparing feasts for ten or more.  They can clean a house lickety-split; plan a family vacation; and set out a household budget for the next five years without blinking an eye.  For years they have kept children and grandchildren busy; ordered younger adult family members when to participate with preparations and cleaning up.  They have earned their stripes, and are used to using them!

I am very curious to see how tonight’s service plays out.  We desperately need to do a ‘movement rehearsal’ – skipping the lines and just doing the stand up here, sit down there, move from here to there, get out guitar now, etc.  But I am not in charge, and my language skills aren’t really up to my taking over.  So I plan to smile and do my part as best I can.  After all, they need at least one of us to follow.  It is only an hour after all; well… it shouldn’t be more than an hour.  Only time will tell!

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About Lois Loban Stuckenbruck

Trained as a Ballerina, then completed a BA in Business Adm and English Literature at Milligan College. More recently trained to be a lay pastor (Reader) in the Church of England. Wife of a Biblical Scholar, Mother of three. I'm an American who has also lived many years in England and Germany (currently Munich). I have worked as an Editorial Assistant, Systems Manager (Xerox Stars on Ethernet Network), and several positions in higher education fundraising (Alumni and Development).
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