Today didn't look busy on my calendar. (Yes, I still use a traditional calendar that I write things on rather than an electronic one. Not only is it cheaper to replace when I lose it - which happens from time to time - but I usually select ones filled with visual art. My current calendar features the artists from my spiritual home in Canada known as the "Group of Seven.") The only thing on the calendar was midday Eucharist. "Hmmm" thought I, "maybe I'll head out and visit some folk in their homes." It wasn't to be...
First, there were phone calls and emails to respond to this morning - and office details. Then, at Eucharist, only two folks showed up. "Hmmmm" thought I again, "maybe we should shorten things today; after all there are only two people here today." But for some reason I skipped the logic and just followed our Iona-inspired liturgy - complete with lectio divina - and it was one of the deepest and most theologically satisfying conversations we've had to date. As one of the women said afterwards, "I don't know why but today really touched me." And I said, "Who knows why, right... but me, too!"
Then I had a catch-up meeting with my musical director - I LOVE this guy - both professionally and personally. He is SOOO talented and sensitive - soooo creative and fun - and we both trust and respect what the other brings to the table. So we talked about Sunday and Christmas Eve and plans for the unfolding new year. I was buzzing when we finished. While we were meeting, a couple very interested in church membership called and wondered if we might meet later today - and seeing that my calendar was clear - we set it up. And just when I thought I might grab a bite for lunch another church member wandered in "just to catch up." So an hour later, we had talked deeply about love, faith, prayer, drinking, women, health, friends, music, spiritual and professional growth. Who knew, right!?
Then the couple interested in membership rang the buzzer... and this, too became a rich and challenging theological conversation about biblical interpretation, living into God's grace in Christ and questions about sexuality, ethics and the wounds of fundamentalism. OMG... for a day that looked so simple when it started it became saturated in profound and complicated questions about faith, hope and love.
When I left my office the sun had evaporated from the golden Berkshires and our hills were shrouded in darkness. Driving home I gave thanks for the Christmas lights and hoped that I might get ours up by this weekend. (We're taking a mini-retreat to Brattleboro on Friday.) And just to top the day off, I was blessed to find that the Jewish Biblical scholar, Amy Jill Levine, will be in Western Massachusetts for the weekend of December 17-18th and was looking for a place to share her insights and do a book signing - for free - so I jumped on the chance and now THAT will happen, too!
The day came to a sweet and gentle close watching James Taylor on "Spectacle," the show Elvis Costello hosts. Taylor is such a loving and clear-headed artist - whose music has been part of the soundtrack of my life - that I just sipped my red wine and wept a few tears of joy. As I have written many times before, my dear and beloved mentor, Ray Swartzback, used to say: Pastoral ministry is an emotional roller coaster. There is nothing else in the world like it so hold on to your hat! And today that was true in spades.
(filmed at Pittsfield's "Colonial Theatre" - a place I got to play in this past Saturday with my buds in the Jazz Ambassadors.)
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