Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Day in the Life...

Thoughts in the shower, where my brain actually begins waking up:

-The bar of soap doesn't seem to be lasting as long as it used to. Inner dialogue voice: "It has to cover more real estate than it used to."

-Why can't we accept that universal healthcare would be a good thing for a federal government to provide its people? That and national security/military defense, infrastructure for major interstate transportation, public welfare to help the States assure that no one dies of starvation or exposure, and helping assure a quality education for all American children, should be 98% of what the federal government does. These things would all help business, too--healthcare would be off their backs, good transportation systems would move the wheels of commerce, and healthy, educated people make money and are good customers!

-The ingredients of my shampoo sound like rocket fuel.

-Most people don't really know what a pastor does with the majority of her or his time. Preparing sermons? Sure. Studying? Sure. Administrative tasks and communication? Far more than even I believe. Funerals and weddings? Yep. Deaths obviously occur randomly, and can't be scheduled like weddings, and who would want to? Sudden or totally unexpected deaths are so very tragic and their impact is hard to fathom. But for me, the biggest surprise of being a pastor is the amount of counseling I do, and the great variety of issues that must be dealt with. And keeping counseling at the "pastoral counseling" level is more of a challenge at year 32 of ministry than at year one. Having sat with so many folk, one develops a deeper understanding of the human psyche, which drives a temptation to "fix" rather than heal and "analyze" rather than listen. Using the scriptures in pastoral counseling helps remind me AND the one being counseled of the nature of what I can offer best.

-Water is an amazing thing. Two elements, one highly reactive, the other explosive. Combine them and we have water, something the human body can't survive without, and which makes up the bulk of us, anyway. Clear, tasteless, refreshing to drink and quite soothing when standing under a hot shower of it at 5:30AM, or swimming in a nice cool pool in the height of Summer heat. I have to believe that eventually, the hydrogen fuel cell will become the power source of the future for homes, cars, whatever. It converts hydrogen (and oxygen from the air) into power through a catalytic process, and its "waste product" is pure water. Oh, and water makes ice, which is really good in a top-shelf Scotch or a favorite soda pop.

-I'm spending the week "batching it" because my lovely wife is out of town helping watch our two grandchildren while our daughter helps lead a big program at her church. It's kind of "win-win" for us in that my wife gets to spend lots of time with the grandkids, and I can live out my schedule as I see fit. When I was younger, I would use her brief absences as times to stay up late or eat foods my dietitian wife would frown upon. At 62-plus, not so much. I find myself following pretty much the same schedule as I always do, and I'm beyond being a night owl now. I also used to "slob out" when she was away, but now find myself living more like Felix Unger (the neat one in "The Odd Couple"). Frankly, I start missing that lady about ten minutes after she leaves, which gets worse as the week goes by.

-I don't really want to get out of the shower, which is so hot it is spewing what looks like steam, when I know that the 13 degree temperature outside means the furnace has the space just outside the shower curtain maintained at a frigid 66 degrees. Remember the Seinfeld episode where Kramer literally "moves in" to his shower, even preparing food there? Yeah, kind of like that. I think if I were rich, I'd have one of those giant bathrooms with a shower "vault" you could almost play a Cricket match in.

-One last thought before rolling back the curtain: Preaching and working for social justice is one of the most difficult things a pastor has to do. Unlike messages that offer inspiration or that soothe the inner life, preaching justice and encouraging a church to pursue it, body, mind and spirit, receives a lot of push-back, especially when the current culture leads people to see it more as a political thing than a "God" thing. Actually, it is all but impossible to work for justice without engaging the political realm. The secret is to not be partisan in its pursuit, at least in the pulpit. I confess that, as one whose undergraduate degree and first-love was journalism and communications, I do engage some of the contemporary partisan struggles in my writing, as that is so natural when most of my experience was in the "editorial" voice. Facebook becomes an outlet for some of this; I hope my parishioners understand that I am not typically in my pastoral role on that form of social media. All that said, I have always tried to have the social justice message as a core value of my pastoral preaching and teaching, because Jesus certainly did, and I believe the scriptures call for it. The intensity of this emphasis has increased as I've aged, and as I am much closer to the end of my full-time ministry than its beginning.

-I don't think I will ever grow tired of a hot shower on a cold morning. Shalom, Yinz.

What's Next?

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