Thursday, February 28, 2013

Not rushed

I am teaching a workshop here at our retreat center on Saturday. Initially, I was bringing two other church members with me, but with the issues from last week, I came alone. I don't mind that so much. They gave me the key to the main building, so that if I want to practice the piano tonight, I have access! I have my coffee pot, my computer, and I brought 9 books for research! I think these 2 days will give my soul a chance to catch up with the rest of me. And, I am enjoying not feeling rushed - having a little time to ponder over Sunday's sermon and over Saturday's presentation. I've got a little extra time for extra prayers for Sunday's small group work, and it is just a gift to not feel rushed.

When I arrived in the little town today, I stopped for lunch. As I was leaving, it was blowing snow and the the wind was wicked. There was a woman walking who asked if I was going in her direction. I wasn't. But, as I drove to the retreat center, I felt bad about leaving her out in the cold, so I turned around and went back and picked her up. Turns out that she usually rides a bike, but she had an accident a couple of weeks ago. She was on her way to the pharmacy and grocery store, and she planned to catch a bus home. I would like to report that our car ride was a spiritual high, but it really wasn't.

It was just a ride. But, you know, sometimes, that is all we are supposed to offer - just a ride, with no other expectations. Somehow, I do believe that little acts of kindness (whether we automatically do them or have to make ourselves turn around for a do-over), make a difference in the world. I do believe that little acts of kindness stands proud next to acts of meanness. I do believe that we are called to bear fruit - and if we can't give little old ladies a ride on a cold day, what good are we?

Kindness is a practice. It is something that I have to be very intentional about. That's why I like coming to this retreat center. It feeds my Spirit. It makes me think about things like kindness and spiritual stuff. It slows me down.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Yesterday, we had a medical emergency at church. After it was all over, I left the hospital and thought about just driving home and taking some Advil for my aching head! But, instead, I went back to the church, gave the firemen next door an update, sat down in the sanctuary, and breathed. Good thing we practiced a breath prayer in my Lenten group.

Sometimes, when I am in the middle of a crisis situation, I think much like I did when I got married...I think, "If I stay calm, everybody else will stay calm. If I keep it together, everybody else will keep it together." Usually, it works that way. I've found that to be especially true at funerals. The family is often exhausted and they need a calm presence to get them through all of the rituals that surround death so that those rituals can be comforting and not even more stressful.

The flip side is that when I am out of crisis mode, I have a moment or two of not being myself. The truth is that emergencies get to me, too. Death gets to me, too. Scary things scare me, too. Sometimes, when I finally get by myself, I have tears. Sometimes, I just stare out the window. Sometimes, I just close my eyes and breathe. Sometimes, I think I do all of that at the same time.

All of that to say...never take your minister's calm for aloofness. We are often doing all that we can to hold it together ourselves...which makes me appreciate all over again the importance of keeping our spiritual lives in shape. You never what the day holds. You never, ever know. So, breathe. Receive the Holy Spirit. Amen.