Friday, February 27, 2009

Remember You Are Dust

Six years (almost) into ministry, I preached my first Ash Wednesday sermon and for the first time placed the ashes on the foreheads of my congregation. (Why not before--I'm not really sure.) I had to/got to(?) mark the sign of the cross on my precious Baby Girl's sleeping face and say, "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return." It didn't choke me up then as much as today.

It's been a rough week here...

How many breaths, how many days, how many years are enough?

On Thursday last week, we celebrated the funeral of a 95 year old woman, who up until a few months ago was full of life. I saw her just before Christmas and took Baby Girl in to the nursing home to see her. She had recently moved to the home and hadn't seen Baby Girl yet. She told me how beautiful my girl was/is, "the only baby more beautiful was mine," she said.

On Monday this week, we celebrated the funeral of a 73 year old woman, who has had health problems for years, such that I assumed incorrectly that she was much older than she is. 73--that's only 4 years older than my mother and I thought of her more like a grandma. She's struggled, yes, but death was a shock--a sudden downturn after my most recent visit to her in the hospital when she was going in for an angiogram (routine stuff for her).

Just now I returned to the office after sitting for an hour with a 90-something year old woman whose family called to say that she was now on hospice care. She had a stroke a few weeks ago and has given up. They said that she had been looking good but today looked bad. Unfortunately, no family was there when I was. I left a prayer shawl made by members of our congregation and a note. I agree--she didn't look good and I don't expect her to live very long.

But on the way home, it hit me hard. "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return." And I thought about my Baby Girl. I realize that I don't think about the future much...I think about today. Maybe it's because I know the fragility of life--both from this line of work but also from losing my dad when I was young. I love her so much and don't want to smother her as she grows, but I want to make the most of whatever moments we have. Perhaps that is why this trying to be pastor and mother is so hard for me. I don't want to spend every second with her; I know that's not healthy for either one of us. But we're dust--we only have now.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Five -- Taking a Break

Today's Friday Five is about taking a break, so I'm taking one. My "to do" list includes 3 pressing items (3 sermons--one for this weekend, one for a Monday funeral, and one for Ash Wednesday) and LOADS of other important things that are just going to have to wait. Maybe this break will be just refreshing enough to get that first sermon done!

So...I would spend...

1. a 15 minute break ~ doing suduko or kakuro or a crossword puzzle or some other word game

2. an afternoon off ~ reading a book for fun

3. an unexpected free day ~ sleeping interspersed with reading and games and tv watching

4. a week's vacation ~ catching up on home organization and tasks around home that get neglected (with healthy amounts of sleeping and reading and games and tv watching)

5. a sabbatical ~ no idea...but I've been thinking that I need to convince my congregation to create a sabbatical policy (more for senior pastor than for me right now) and that any future congregation needs to have one before I'm in the position to need/want one

I realized that as I answer these questions, I answer as if these breaks are breaks that I get alone--with no other responsibilities (namely work or the care of my Baby Girl). These are things that I need for me...things that get are the first to get dropped. I keep being reminded of my need for some 'me' time, but don't know when or how that's going to happen.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

I really would like to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I am in a place that is no longer very good for me and I know it. But there are realities that are also in place. I was ready to move some time ago and almost did, but in the long wrong now think I did make the better choice. So now, I feel like I'm in this dark tunnel and the end seems so far away that I can't even see the glimmer of light.

My husband is in the process of looking for a new job. He's currently a teacher, but he's looking for a principal job. I think, though he hasn't said it so many words, is that he is only seriously looking because he knows that I need to be somewhere else. So until he either gets a new job or decides to stop looking, I'm on hold. It's not fair to a congregation to be in conversation with them if there's no chance of it working out.

We were so excited this summer. We had our beautiful baby girl. He had an interview in place where he was called back for a final interview as one of two candidates. Within a half-hour of that place were 4 open congregations. It all looked so good. He came in second; so much for moving in the fall. And so here we are...sending out applications for him, wishing and hoping and praying for interviews and a good job for him. A job he can take in a place to which I can follow him...where I can either take some time off for a short time and do supply preaching or other random work or where I can find a half-time call or where I can find a call that is better for me.

Today has been a really rough day. I just want a little bit of the darkness doesn't seem so dark and so that I can still be a good pastor here. Sermons still need to be written and people need to hear the good news. I know God is with me; I know God loves me, but I am having such a hard time living in that right now. Just a little light...please God.