When the non-clergy staff were invited to contribute to the Daily Cups it was mentioned that our writings would somehow be related to our ministries at St. Alban’s. Sonya has been really good about that; I haven’t followed that path at all, as readers well know. Frankly, nothing has ever come to mind about keeping the heat on, the liturgical furniture all in place, or buying only what we need at the best prices I can find which has a spiritual dimension that I could convey adequately. But one funny thing occurred recently that you might enjoy. It has to do with the hymn numbers for the four hymn boards in the nave.

For years, much to the frustration of countless ushers, the number cards have been too short to stay in the boards. Even after new numbers were bought by Peter Feibelman, there were still areas of some of the boards in which the numbers would not stay in place. Discussion among many of us frustrated with the tumbling numbers often turned to how we could change the dimensions of the slots and who in the parish could do such cabinet-making quality of work or how much it might cost to engage a professional to modify or even to replace the boards. From somewhere an idea later came to me. Instead of changing the boards, change the numbers!! Actually, the idea came in the course of coming up with something for a young man to do who presented himself to us as one who wanted to do some volunteer work. The idea was to just tape to the back of each number a bit of card stock so as to add an eighth of an inch to the length of each one. I presented it to him, and he said “glad to do it,” but I never saw him again. Maybe he felt insulted by the simplicity of it. Later, I asked the office volunteers who come in to answer the phone to do this. And they took care of it in short order. Perfect. Problem solved. The end of the tumbling numbers. Simple and at zero cost; my kind of solution. The only thing that keeps me from taking any pride in this is this question I keep asking myself: “Why didn’t I think of it sooner?”

For more on the theme of simplicity, I commend to your bedtime reading “Simplify Your Life: 101 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter,” by Elaine St. James, 1994. New from $1.75 and used from $0.01 on Amazon.

Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC

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2 Responses to Simplicity

  1. Christian says:

    Lots of fun.

  2. Bob Witten says:

    As one of the ushers who was trying to keeep the hymn number cards from showering down into the pews or down into the heat registers, I applaud this brilliant fix. I too, was thinking how to fix the boards…stuff kleenex in the grooves, or coffee stirrers. But this is great. Talk about turning the problem upside down and fixing it! Thank you so much!!!

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