Sunday, August 5, 2007

A Day in the Life of a Closeted Pastor

Up at 6... couldn't sleep, would have liked to sleep 'til 7. I met Beloved at "the usual place" and we took what has become our regular morning constitutional... actually, one of two options we normally choose between. As we walked early morning mist followed us, rolling along the riverbanks and burning off with the warming of the day.

By 8:20 I was home again, and showering. The team of people who are repairing my roof was also here, which means that the same hammering and banging that has been going on in my house for three days had already started. (This made writing my sermon this week... interesting.)

An hour later I was dressed and breakfasted and ready to preach and administer the Lord's Supper at my church. I was a tetch nervous about the sermon... honestly wasn't sure it was at all comprehensible given the conditions under which it was written. But it seemed to speak to the congregation (which included the rarely-sighted-at-church Closeted Pastor Offspring!).

During coffee hour I spoke with two women whom I know to be housemates, but whom I don't know well, otherwise. We ended up talking about all the texts that never get preached (either because they're appalling, or too difficult, or simply because the lectionary can't fit them in). Eventually the conversation turned to Sodom and Gomorrah, and we discussed the sins of Sodom (violence, brutality, inhospitality, in my opinion and in theirs). As we ended our conversation I noticed that the women wear identical silver bands on their left ring fingers.

After coffee hour I ran to the bank to withdraw cash for my construction folks (they needed supplies), picked up an incredibly unhealthy fast food lunch for myself and Offspring, came home to eat too quickly, and then went out again for two pastoral calls.

First visit: C, a man in his 70's, suffering from complications of diabetes; he called the office earlier this week to request home communion, which I took to be a sign of his growing increasingly disheartened by his physical challenges. C is a very smart man, chairman of the finance committee for years and years. As we prepared for communion he talked at some length about the church roof with the church officer who had accompanied me. I did what I normally do for home communion. I read the lectionary text on which I'd preached, and gave a very abbreviated version of the sermon. (I love it when this sparks a dialogue. Today it didn't.) Then, prayers and communion, and lastly, the prayer of thanksgiving, in which I thanked God for the nourishment of the meal and asked that it strengthen C and uplift him, and give him hope for healing.

After leaving C's house I saw that I had a text message from Beloved: X

Second visit: M, a woman in her 90's, who has been completely and utterly healthy until the last week, when she suffered a stroke. She is in a nursing home, doing rehab, struggling with her verbal expression, and very teary (something I've seen in lots of folks post-CVA... I don't know whether it's a physiological symptom or a psychological one). She clasped my large, strong hand in her soft, small, cool ones, and wept. She struggled to say things like "I have been here since ____", but was able very quickly to answer "I don't know" when asked a question. After a while I spoke, told her about the scripture reading of the day, spoke of God's promise to be with her, as a loving, caring parent, and asked her if she'd like to sing. She nodded. I sang "Amazing Grace" very softly (so as not to disrupt her roommate's television show) while she wept. Then I prayed, prayed that God would let God's loving presence be known in the frustration and waiting, in the hands and hearts of her caregivers, in the prayers and visits of her congregational family, who love her so very much.

Then, home, to a good book, and the promise of dinner out and a movie with my fantastic children.

I love my life.


Grandmère Mimi said...

See now, Cecilia. Life is good.

God bless you.

Jan said...

Thank you. I'm glad you love your life! How blessed you, your fantastic children, and your beloved are.

analyse said...

I love reading your are so, well..."normal"...(what does that mean????)....,thank you for sharing your life this way. Makes me feel "normal" too.

Kate said...

*beams, and hugs you tight* Sometimes you get the good days. :)

KJ said...

"Emotional lability" is very often a part ot the neurological picture following a stroke, typically not a long-term concern, but it can be, and that is often frustrating to family that does not know how to response.

But, given the common physical and language frustrations, limitations and loss following a stroke, one can easily see how it would be difficult to discern the given cause for tears at any moment.

No doubt, your loving presence and words were exactly what your parishioner needed, and was blessing to her and to you.

Aghaveagh said...

I thought the conversation with the housemates was very interesting. How many "housemates" are out there? (no pun intended). What if they were just able to be free?

Alex said...

Thanks for sharing this. I love reading what you have to say. Blessings.