Tuesday, March 6

So I got the best compliment on Sunday: someone forgot my name.

Sometimes it happens I am a little late to church on Sunday morning, and this last was because we had a friend's mother visiting and we were all lingering over breakfast in our sunny kitchen, laughing. I do not think God will begrudge it us, somehow...

 I usually interpret the sermon into something resembling American Sign Language for a few deaf people that are a part of our congregation; we have other people who are better at signing the songs so each of us is given room to do what we do best. Anyway, when I got there, I had to sit a few rows back from my usual spot because everything was so full (a good thing). I saw several new signers, as well as the full complement of members I normally see only a part of--they are all in helping professions and are respectively sometimes away at workshops or too exhausted to come to the morning services after working on the weekends. This made me nervous. I saw that I had a full spectrum of sign systems (think Spanglish speakers from both ends of the spectrum), which is challenging to meet.

"Where is Rachel?" I was eavesdropping now, and could see the conversation from where I sat.

"Where is Rachel?" was asked from one end of the row to the other.

"What? The other interpreter? Where is she? I don't see her."

"Rachel isn't here."

"What about the lesson? Who will interpret the lesson?"

"I don't know."

At this point our other interpreter was going through the announcements of friends and family in the church. She stopped. "It isn't 'Rachel'," she signed, and patiently spelled out my name--again. "She's there, behind you," she said, smiling and waving at me. I waved back.

I know that it is possible to take what just happened as an insult, but to me at that moment it was the best compliment I could have received, especially from such a diverse group of people. They didn't remember my name, but they valued my skill.

For a moment I could imagine that I felt some kind of kinship with my favorite authors and the craftsman and artists whose work I admire from centuries' distance. I remember Robin Wood's conversation about signing his name to his work--this as I stood in stupid dress shoes in a patch of nettles in the door of his workshop--that it somehow seemed a thing of pride to him but not to others who bought from him. It is good to be known for one's contribution to the lives of others and not as a face or a name. It is quite a relief, in a way.

The roses will be white.

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