starting with Friday morning at the lectionary group, when the four of us who attended discussed the disheartening condition of the world in general, the treachery of assorted leaders, both those we liked and those we loathed, the ambivalence we felt about the whole peace movement these days, the state of local politics and social conditions, and what our congregations were doing to effect change in the world, state, local community. We never did get to the scripture readings for the week, instead chewing on the dismalness of human life in general and what we couldn't do about it.
Sunk in gloom as we left the gathering, one other pastor and I looked at each other out on the street and said, essentially, "the hell with it, I'm going to enjoy the life I've got and take some time out from dithering". So I went home, ate lunch, and went out in the garden, my first task to eliminate the annoying oriental poppies that sprout every spring from a decrepit whiskey half-barrel and leave limp brown fronds and empty seed heads in their wake, after a blooming season too brief to be enjoyed fully.
In a way, I felt guilty about it, but that damned barrel of weedy floppy greens and blooms has given me so little pleasure over the four years I've lived here, that it was time to say goodbye. I thought about transplanting them, but I couldn't get enough of the roots out. So after dismantling the barrel and removing the rocks that had been placed underneath the soil, I spread the soil around the nearby tree and headed off to see what else I could fix.
Later in the afternoon, I went to Langley to do a little browsing and ran into a gentleman I've known slightly through his wife, a lovely woman who died several months ago but who, before she died, helped me think through some puzzling situations at my congregation. Barbara was a friend and a mentor, a retired Presbyterian pastor whose administrative skills were how she ministered to the world; her widower, John, is still struggling with her death, which came after a sudden recurrence of cancer. But he was volunteering at the local Good Cheer store and said hello, then came to sit with a group of us at the annual Youth Connection salmon dinner an hour later. I enjoyed talking with him and think I would like to know him better, both personally and pastorally. John is also a retired Presbyterian pastor, accustomed to helping others with their grief and hit very hard by Barbara's death.
Saturday afternoon a bunch of newbies (13 of them!) assembled at the meeting hall to learn about Unitarian Universalism. Teaching this course is always fun; we get to hear each other's spiritual journey stories, exchange views on various experiences we've had, and be impassioned about what we're looking for in a faith community. We're hoping several of these folks will join the congregation; one woman was already ready and signed the membership book then and there.
Last night, eight of us gathered at The Cove, a newish Thai restaurant in Coupeville for a fabulous dinner and conversation, a pleasure all the way around for the companionship, ambiance, and THE FOOD. The waiter got my order wrong, but it didn't matter; what he served me was delicious! Whatever it was----fried rice with seafood, I think, but definitely not panang curry!
This morning, I went over to the Freeland Cafe as usual for a blueberry pancake and sausage and now I'm home again, feeling much restored after a couple of days in which I quit worrying about the world situation, let go of some of that jadedness by not watching the news or reading the front page, sticking to the comics and the features pages in the paper, and doing something to improve my little corner of the world. I'll go back to changing the world in general after I've gotten my strength back. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be a world leader and never be able to take a sabbatical from crisis. I cannot imagine. Ordinary life is tough enough!
Anyhow, this morning is church and I don't have to do it but can just enjoy it. This evening is the North End dine out and that's always a delight. Tomorrow it's time to take up the cudgels again and dope out next Sunday's service. To paraphrase my favorite prophet, "the world you have always with you" and I can turn my energies elsewhere for a little time.