I’m blaming it on my boss, Vic Pentz. I was in a meeting with Vic a week ago, and he walked in announcing that he had a terrible cold.
We immediately banished him to the end of the table, and for the next two hours as we met, he either blew or wiped his nose, and sneezed several times (admittedly, the appropriate way, into the crook of his elbow.) I thought I’d
escaped.

But then Friday evening, I was feeling something funny in my sinuses and throat. Through the night Friday night I awoke a few times, and was aware of a raw feeling. By the time I got up Saturday, my sinuses felt like raw hamburger, and I was sneezing. No time to lay low, however, as I had two weddings to officiate. The real question was how to manage the second one in particular, as the couple was leaving for a three week tour of France/Italy/Greece, and I was afraid of getting too close and giving one of them the cold.

 

Sunday had me feeling like death warmed over, but needing to be in two worship services (and sit in on a third.) I spent the morning fist-bumping folks so I would not shake their hand and give it to them. So far, no one has called (or emailed) to complain to me.

 

But here I am, about five days after the first symptom appeared, feeling crummy, still with drainage, congestion (head and chest), wondering whether it is time to call the Doctor and go in. Apparently, the anatomy of my sinus cavity is such that one pocket holds gook (which seems better to type and say than either snot or mucous) in, refusing to allow it to be voided, and it sits there and morphs into a sinus infection.

 

A retired Doctor in Mississippi once told me that if you leave a cold alone, it would last about ten days. On the other hand, if you treated the cold, it would be gone in about a week and a half.

Then my Doctor told me that if I was not feeling better after five days (which today is . . .), I should come in.

 

And why is it that it feels so much worse when it is a thousand degrees outside? Maybe we expect to have a cold in the winter, and thus we expect to feel awful, and we call in sick and chug hot fluids while we watch old movies on TV. I have not missed a beat, with the exception of cancelling my workout this morning (and I’ve felt guilty all day for doing that.)

 

I really want that magic wand I was looking for last week.

A number of years ago–MANY years ago, in the BC (Before Children) days, I was talking across my back fence with our neighbor. He knew I was a Presbyterian Minister, and finally the question came out: “So what do you DO exactly?”

I laughed and tried to explain, but it’s a little like asking someone in sales to explain what they do, or an attorney to explain what they do. When you need them, and you are with them, you get it, you understand, but I guess there is the sense that Ministers just sit around all day doing nothing until Sunday, when they “work.”

Fear not, I’ll not bore you with the details, but rest assured that I really do work more than one day a week, and on that day, more than just the one hour that you may see me. I would guess that on average I log well over 60 hours a week, and if you add in the hours of the night that I wake up and lie in bed thinking about, praying about, wondering about things, well, the hours add up.

Trust me, Pastors earn their keep. OK, maybe not all of them, but the ones I hang out with do.

One of the things we do many days is intersect people in either their best or worst moments. And this is one of those weeks. To start things off, I am carrying Alexander, our emergency Pastoral Care cell phone (Why Alexander? It comes from  2 Timothy 4.14: “Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm.” When that phone rings, you really don’t look forward to hearing what is on the other end, and it pretty well scuttles a night’s sleep or your weekend plans.) Then there is the fact that I am being shuttled through hoops in trying to visit a member of our church who is, shall we say, a “guest” of one of our county facilities. Then there are the phone calls and emails that come in with concerns, some minor, some MAJOR, and people need (as well as want) attention.

Their (adult) children are making big mistakes. This guy’s marriage is on the rocks. This couple just got engaged and wants to meet. That guy has something he would like to talk about. The leader of a small group needs some help dealing with a problem person. A Sunday School class needs some help. The economy–which was supposed to turn around months ago–is taking homes and security (and marriages) away.

Add in there the reading and studying that needs to be done to stay up on life, and sermons to prepare. I know of several Pastors who have lost their jobs because they really did not do anything, and were downloading sermons off web sites on Sunday mornings. I’m not one of those, and even when I have several sermons on a particular passage of Scripture, I demand of myself that I start from scratch each time I face the pulpit.

Programs to plan, advance notice of programs to envision (why do they not teach marketing in Seminary?!), I could go on.

Today I had lunch with someone I have known for about 20 years. Lunch began with the question of whether our conversation was considered confidential. I said that it was protected both legally and morally (unless he told me about a heinous crime he had committed.) Then for the next however many minutes I listened to a downward spiral of life that was the result of nothing he had done really wrong, but now a houseful of life is on the way down, fast.

For years, I have looked for a magic wand. Not a play one, but a real one. Yeah, I know they do not exist, but I’d like to have one all the same. I wish I could wave my magic wand and make people’s troubles go away. But I can’t, because they don’t exist.

Curiously, when I was a youth, I really wanted to be a professional magician. I remember saying that when I was meeting with a Presbyterian Minister as I worked on my Boy Scout “God and Country” award, and watching him laugh. At the time, I thought he was making fun of me. Today, I wonder if maybe he was laughing with me, not at me–as if he wanted one, as well, but he knew they were not real.

Still; if I had a magic wand, I could do a lot of good. MAN, I wish I had one!

Interesting connections

July 13, 2011

I am in the process of making a new friend. At least, I hope I am in the process of doing that.

A number of years ago, I started following the Tour de France. I had started participating in triathlons (to say competing would be unfair to everyone else–trust me, I was only participating), and my time on the bike got me interested in the Tour. In recent years, that interest has grown beyond the Tour to include a number of professional races, but the Tour is the pinnacle of professional cycling, and for three weeks in July, I’m a rabid fan.

A few years back I started following the Tour through the Velonews.com website; there are a number of sites that you can use to follow it, but I have found that Charles Pelkey’s Live Updates tend to be the best, most insightful, and current of the bunch. Along the way, I would occasionally post a comment or a question in Live Update, and through the years, Charles and I have developed a bit of a friendship (I would like to say that), despite the fact that we have never met. He does know that he has a standing offer for lunch (on me) if he is ever in Atlanta, and has the time and inclination.

From time to time, Charles will post my comment in the Live Update, as he did this past Sunday. My comment was bemoaning the fact that I could not follow live, as I had to preach 3 times, administer 5 baptisms, along with other duties. Soon after that, another fairly regular poster commented on mine. As it turns out, the other gentleman is a Monsignior with the Congregation of the Clergy at Vatican City in Rome.

The Mons. and I have now connected, directly and not through Live Update, and are starting to share a passion for cycling, as well as ministry. Fascinating how two guys, on separate continents in different hemispheres, can connect.

Of course, being a Presbyterian, I can’t help but think that it was predestined!