Friday, November 16, 2007

My Less-than-comfortable Day

By the definition of the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, I am an introvert. And I don't pussy-foot around the border; I'm the genuine article. Today was not an introvert's idea of a relaxing day. I will crash hard tonight. But it's the kind of day that makes me know who I am and why I do what I do.

I have a parishioner who's in high school who is really a remarkable young man. He's done a lot for me, so you could say I 'owed' him. But I'm also genuinely fond of him, so agreed to donate most of my morning to driving a van full of theater props from the local high school to one of the local elementary schools, where his theater class was putting on a one-act version of the Sleeping Beauty story. Did I have a whole list of pressing items on my to-do list back in the parish office? You bet I did. But I would not have traded the experience of watching this group of twenty-some young people act--yes, with varying degrees of ability, but every one of them with passion and dedication. And watching the response of the elementary school kids in the audience was equally precious.

No sooner had I gotten to the church office than it was practically time for me to leave again (after dealing with a few emails) for my noon Rotary meeting. Yeah, you read that right--Rotary. For thirteen years in Stockton, I resisted pressure to join Rotary. To quote Austin Powers, "It's just not my bag, baby!" But all the wise advice I have access to tells me that a member of the clergy in a small town should join a service club, so that's what I'm doing. Hard for an introvert--trust me. I sat next to my Presbyterian counterpart from down the street and we talked a little shop before the formal program started.

When I got back to the office, there was a phone message from a man whose wife died last night. He's not a parishioner, but once had a connection to another parish in this diocese. He wanted "last rites" for his wife. Technically, it's a little late for that, but I agreed to meet him and his two sons later at the funeral home for some prayers around the body of his wife.

Then I had a scheduled meeting with a man who is about to be ordained a deacon--tonight, at St Anne's. When went through some liturgical choreography--both for tonight and for our future working relationship--and then sat down literally behind the altar and discussed youth ministry, in which he has long been involved, and which will be a continuing element of the gifts he shares with this community.

I was barely finished with that meeting when a copier salesman arrived. I know what you're thinking--but we had an appointment. We're far enough into the selection process for our next piece of major office equipment that it was time to arrange for a "test drive," whereby they bring in the machine and let us use it for a week before making a final decision. We got several details ironed out.

Then I was off to the funeral home. The deceased was a war bride--a German girl who, at age 17, married an American G.I. who was in her country as part of an occupying force. They were together for nearly 59 years. A couple of months ago, after a long while with difficulty walking, she was diagnosed with advanced leukemia. The end came more quickly than expected--not even time to go through the hospice care phase--but she was in great pain, so it was a blessing. Last night, at home, after asking her husband to fix her a bowl of soup, she died in his arms. A week or so ago, she had thanked him for giving her a good life. Such utter sweetness. What a privilege it is for me to be allowed in to a moment like that in someone's life. With her husband, her two sons, and a longtime friend, we gathered around her body and offered the final prayers for the dying--yes, a few hours late--from the Prayer Book.

Now I'm trying to get this posted before the rehearsal for tonight's liturgy begins. Miles to go before I sleep, but it will be rest indeed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi! When I sold a Thanksgiving turkey to your kind wife on Saturday, she mentioned you were an Episcopal priest newly moved to Warsaw, IN. A quick Google search led me to your blog, which I enjoyed reading. From your writings you appear to have a lively intellect, earnest faith, patient hope, and strong sense of what it means to be "church" (among other qualities, I'm sure!) It would be great to meet you someday. Have a blessed Thanksgiving! -Jeff