When I was a child in the fifties, we had lot of little rhymes and songs for various purposes. We had “Einie, Meanie, Miney, Moe….” for choosing people and things, we had jump rope songs, like “Down the Mississippi Where the Boats Go Push”. The girls had a special rhyme for determining their futures. By using this rhyme and the buttons on a dress, girls could determine the occupation of their future husbands. It went:
Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief;
Doctor, lawyer, Indian, chief:
Tinker, tailor, cowboy, sailor.
It was the fifties, so there are more than a few things wrong with this rhyme, like the assumptions that girls would only marry, girls would only marry boys and that girls would not ever be these occupations mentioned. No one remembers what a tinker does any more, that wandering workman, that fixer of household things, purveyor of pots and pan. As I remembered this rhyme it struck me that several professions were missing. There is a noticeable lack of the helping professions: teachers, ministers, counselors, social workers. Musicians and artists and sculptors are not mentioned, neither are super heroes or firemen or plumbers, and wizards are right out. As children we use playtime to practice for these adult roles. We play at being them to help us determine if we want to be them and to find which one fits who we are.
After I graduated from college, someone asked me what was the difference between school and working, and I said that my school had taught me how to think and my job taught me what to think. Both places involve interacting with people, but neither allows for the spiritual side of interaction, the idea that God or Spirit exists in the space between people.
Church, on the other hand, reminds us to play well with others, to hold sacred the interactions through which we express ourselves. Even better, it helps a motley collection of folks to become a community. The Universalists say that we come from and will return to good. In between, we have a lifetime of opportunity to do good, whoever we are: Tinker, tailor, cowboy, sailor.