It’s Town Meeting day here in Vermont. That time in early March where residents in sleepy hamlets and frozen-in-time villages throw on their barn boots and plod through the mud to get to schools and village offices to speak for against proposed budgets and prospective incoming clerks and supervisors, etc.
I have always been intrigued with Town Meeting day. Why call it a meeting when no one is “meeting” to discuss proposals? Those meetings have taken place—formally and informally—mainly informally in country general stores and of course, in post offices.
Still, Vermonters are meeting.
As I ran errands today that took me on windy back roads, I smiled at the official “Vote for…” signs. Signs written in marker on poster board stapled to a wooden stick. No glossy professional signs like I would see in Maryland where I spent some much-needed time in exile, learning better how to listen and trust God.
Simple signs, but not simple issues.
This year’s Town Meeting day is one that has the potential of changing a way of life so many seek out and desire for their families.
This year’s vote is about school choice in rural communities…well, more like, taking away school choice and merging into larger districts to save money and resources because as “officials” say (not quite sure who these officials are or think they are) rural communities can’t keep going the way they are going with numbers and money shrinking.
I saw the signs today, also written with a black marker on poster board, telling folks to vote no to mergers.
I wonder when the polls close tonight at 10 p.m. what tomorrow will bring?
While I am not able to predict the future, I have a feeling tomorrow will bring a change that many do not want.
So, I sit here as the sun goes down on Town Meeting day in Vermont and think about change—good change and not so good change. Change that challenges us to grow. Change that leads us on. Change that invites us to see just how God can indeed make all things new—whether we like it or not.
God can take dashed dreams, failed attempts, deflated hope and make something wonderful out of it all.
What we must do is trust God in all of life’s changes. Trust God when all seems lost. Trust that whether we win or lose, God is still working in redeeming our lives and our communities.
The other day as I moonlighted at the local paper, I got to interview a woman in one of Vermont’s picturesque hamlets that has been dotted with “No to school merger” signs.
She is planning a pie for breakfast event this weekend. It’s a fundraiser for the library she oversees. After I asked her about what kind of pies would be served and how she came up with this novel idea, she added some very important information that I didn’t think to ask.
She said she schedules this event after the Town Meeting to bring the community together after a contentious vote.
She said it is a reminder that no matter what side folks are on, we are still to be a neighbor to one another. And what better way to remember that and to have fun than while gathering over homemade pies for breakfast?
In a way that Vermont hamlet captures the hope and redemption that I witness in the breaking of the Eucharist bread.
When I as a pastor say the words to all that this is Christ’s body broken for them, take, eat, remember…I am inviting all to remember how Jesus came to show us a better way, a different way forward, a way of loving even when disagreements arise.
No, there won’t be any Eucharist bread being broken at that event. But those Vermonters will still be doing something holy when they break apart the flaky pie crusts with their forks. For in the breaking of the pie crusts, they are in fact inviting the spirit of unity to fill the room. And, I believe, the Spirit of God will be with them in a powerful and healing way.
It’s Town Meeting day in Vermont. A reminder that change can be hard, but why fear?
We serve a God who changes not. God’s love is steadfast. So is God’s promises for bright hope for tomorrow.
I think I will have some pie for breakfast this Saturday.