When you live where you live, and when that place is a small town, you have to get to know yourself, because other people will know you well — sometimes better than you want to know yourself.
But it’s never a great idea for someone else to know you better than you know yourself, so it behooves you to keep looking.
I’ve been tired, emotionally up against my physical boundaries. It’s a wonderful privilege to do the work that I do, but sometimes it’s very demanding. You can’t always tell the demands to take a hike. or rather, you can’t always tell all of the demands to take a hike. Sometimes when you’re a minister, people need you. So you show up.
But it’s important to pay attention. Sometimes you can pass things off… And when you can, you probably should. For a lot of reasons, but two big ones. Those you love need to know you trust them to be as big and powerful as they are. And you need to honor what’s too much.
I love sermonizing. (ya think?) This week I had set myself a high bar. I was headed toward a more researchy sermon than I normally do. But post Charlie-memorial and post Jean visits in the hospital, there really wasn’t any brain power left. I finished the sermon. sorta. And went to bed, because bed was what was needed.
The next morning, as the poem says, I watched the river. And something about that flow reminded me. I wasn’t alone in this. I certainly wasn’t alone in mourning Charlie. I wasn’t alone in my fears for Jean, now, thank goodness somewhat allayed. And I am not alone in my ability to chew up a bunch of ideas and get something out of it. And this is a crowd who trusts me to love them.
One of the places that people get ministry wrong, I think, is when we don’t trust them to love us back. And there’s that awful hubris where we think we’re the only people who can… you fill in your own blank. Ministers could be the only people who have that problem, but I’m not taking any bets. So I went to church said, I’m going to give you my premises and my research… see if you can help… lots of thinking happens in the heads of my community… so there was a lot to be said for that. And in the end… it was a great sermon, jointly preached. I was supported and they were grateful to be asked. And the next time? I’ll do my stuff…until I need help again.
Ah, the timeless, sacred river… encouraging me to show up and be present, facilitating the moments of reflection, forgiving (even encouraging) the vulnerability, and offering the Peace of being right where you are, in this place, in this moment of time. Living la vida local has lessons I hadn’t any notion I might want to learn. ah, that darned praying constantly thing.