On the morning of Friday, November 11, I suspect some of the bucket brigade who showed up at the Virginia Conference office to move and load flood buckets are a bit stiff, maybe achy in the arms and shoulders, and moving a little slower. That is to be expected when 3,752 buckets containing cleaning supplies are moved from storage areas to wooden pallets and loaded on to a tractor trailer.
In truth, I was one of those volunteers who showed up to help, and yes, I took a couple of ibuprofens this morning. Apparently, we had close to 30 volunteers. It was a good group of women, men, and staff from the conference office.
The experts who directed us were kind and patient. There is a precision to loading pallets with buckets, and then using shrink wrap to encase the stacked buckets. Our friendly leaders reminded us: expose the corners on the pallets, stack three high, keep handles to the inside, and don’t rush, this isn’t a competition.
Shortly after 9, we started, and as we approached 10:30, storage rooms in the building and two U-Haul box trucks had been unloaded. With each pallet properly stacked and wrapped, forklifts were used to lift the pallets onto the ttractor-trailer
While the buckets all appeared to be uniform in height that wasn’t always the case. The orange and blue colored buckets provided or purchased from those two big hardware retailers were a perfect match. But, sprinkled into the donations were some different colored buckets and their height didn’t match the orange and blue. As the moving and loading progressed, those different buckets were named odd: “We need some odd ones to finish offloading this pallet, let’s set the odd ones off to the side for now.”
That naming made me think about the volunteers for this task, and internally, I asked myself– aren’t we all a bit odd?
After 47 years of marriage, I’m certain my wife would affirm that I have some oddities.
When I take a look at my fellow volunteers, we are a diverse group, some might consider us odd for participating in this loading.
Then I thought about the people in need who will receive the kits, how might they be odd? Is it because they are the victims of a natural disaster?
And I pushed my thinking a bit further, isn’t the Bible full of odd people? Noah, Job, Sarah come to mind.
How about Jesus and the people he encountered?
In recruiting his disciples, do you think it odd that these men basically dropped what they were doing to follow Jesus? Think about the people in the parables, were they seen as being odd by society?
We might all be odd buckets, but we have something in common, our hearts.
Yes, it was our hearts that pushed us to fill a bucket with cleaning supplies, drop it off at our church, and then volunteer to insure the buckets were properly secured on a pallet, and with great care loaded on a tractor-trailer.
Relax, in a couple of days, the soreness will exit our bodies.
And yet, I hope our hearts will never forget the teamwork and energy that took place in the parking lot of the Conference Office on a just right fall morning.
Because in the long run, it is the work of the heart that makes a difference in the lives of all odd buckets.
Author’s note: I was honored to have this piece in the November 15 edition of the Advocate, the weekly newsletter from the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church.