I took it as a good sign that my sabbatical had been a success to disconnect me from the pastoral work I do here, when last night on my way back home I actually had the thought, "Good grief, how much work does a pastor do!"
It wasn't meant as a slam or a subversive shot at anyone. It was self discovery, as in I had really disconnected from the work, mostly, and now I was back doing it.
I am caught by the intense demands of it.
I mean when you are in it, the days just flow past and you do the work you need to do that day. You don't stop to count the prayers prayed or the decisions made or the questions asked or the calls answered or, you know.
So it's good to stop. To decelerate, to untangle, to not "do."
So I slept hard last night. But then it had been a real day in the life.
It began with the shocking news that a friend and colleague down the road had been killed the night before in a tragic car accident. Unbelieveable. Breathtaking. Memories of our conversations. Too many images of those stories I've been a part of in the past. Too many.
Then the morning shifted quickly into three hours of staff meetings so we could all be on the same page this autumn, and a thousand decisions were made. Very good and it will help us all do our work better. Communication is not only the key to a good marriage, but the key to good office relationships and productivity.
I was a little late to lunch, but in keeping with my day one resolve to eat properly, I did get to a quick lunch with Lauralea. Then I headed to town to meet with a friend who's been facing more and more health issues. Yes we are friends, but I am their pastor too. I realize I am overwhelmed by the daily struggle they face. Yes physically, but it's an emotional thing too. A parenting thing, a marriage thing, even a weather thing as the snow and ice make it hard to get around. Yes we have doctors and hospitals and health care, but sickness is still sickness, and pain is still pain.
And God is still God, and though I don't know the answers, or why they suffer, or even what they are going through, I can offer them my presence, my listening ear, my friendship for the journey. That's all I can offer anyone.
Well, maybe not all. I also offer my prayers for them. They are not wasted efforts, this I know and this I have seen proven true and real, again and again. As for why there is no clear healing today, I don't have those answers. What I know is that I am to ask, again and again, with persistence and at least the level of faith as small as a seed. So I pray, again and again.
Then it's a quick stop to get some drinking water and I'm heading home. I head straight to the office to organize some of the mornings work and to write a letter. Then suddenly it's time to head home. The sun has disappeared and supper is on the table.
The evening is shaped by the days events as I sit down to reflect and I remember those hurting this night. I carry those things with me as I do some house repairs and upkeep. I try to distract myself with a TV program, but classically there is nothing on that is up to that task.
I contact a few people and check up on them. Short conversations really but then a half hour is gone.
The day ends where it usually does, with Lauralea and I finding a comfortable place to sit and we chat and we pray. We lift up to God our families, each with their own unique needs. We remind him of the needs we faced in the day, praying for friends near and far. We pray for our work here and we pray for whatever else God lays on our hearts.
It's good to be home. Good to be doing the work of a shepherd, although that role doesn't show up on the list of "Occupations" on Linkedin.com.
It's good to have a friend like Lauralea to share life with, and good to have somebody who comes with a huge tractor and clears my driveway.
It's VERY GOOD to have two pretty great little granddaughters, who Facetime me in the middle of the day, just to say hi and show me how they can dance.
No, it's not always easy, but it is good.