O God, you are my God: eagerly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you, as in a barren and dry land where there is no water. Psalm 63
I have had the pleasure of being retired a little over a year now. The adjustment to a life of leisure hasn’t been too bad, although I have found the “leisure” part of the equation somewhat more elusive than finding the end of Pi. There seems to be no end to the number of little things life requires of its organisms
That’s as it should be. We each have a purpose, even if mine seems to be to provide carbon dioxide for the grass outside so I have something to mow for three out of the four seasons. I don’t mind. In fact, I rather enjoy following my self-propelled grass muncher as it wanders to and fro looking to swing its blades of glory against the forest of local fescue (and dandelions) residing ‘round the house.
Fortunately, we have entered the season of winter, and the lawn seems to have gone dormant, storing up its energy for a springtime assault on my sinuses. That, too, is as it should be, for if it wasn’t for my sneezing, I doubt I would get the exercise I need to huff and puff my way around the house between meals and snacks.
Speaking of which, while the sod has gone to sleep, this sod-buster has had to shake off his slumbering ways and prepare to take a couple of services while our minister is off on a spot of vacation.
I had thought that by not preaching regularly my mind would be gathering up fresh ideas and thoughts and illustrations the way squirrels find and store up their own nuggets of nutrition day-by-day, but sadly, that hasn’t happened. It’s either that or someone has broken into that cranial storehouse of wisdom and insights God (or Darwin) stuck between my ears and made off with all those treasures!
The truth is, I suspect, that the old adage “Use it or lose it,” is valid.
Back in the day when I was preparing sermons to deliver on a weekly basis, I know my eyes and ears were alert to looking and listening for things that would connect our faith with life.
I remember one day driving around Ennis Lake and finding a woman pushing her bicycle along the road. I stopped and asked if I could help, thinking she might have a flat tire. I was wearing my clergy shirt and collar and driving my pickup, so hoped she wouldn’t be alarmed. She told me she was fine, so I drove off. I would love to say I offered to help out of the goodness of my heart (and surely, some of that was there), but I also knew the gospel lesson coming up that Sunday addressed the story of the Good Samaritan, and I was NOT going to be the priest “who passed by on the other side” of the person in distress.
Things like that happened all the time when I was preaching regularly, but now that I’m not, I find my eyes have clouded over a bit. I simply am not making the connections I once did. It’s not for lack of activities, but for lack of paying attention to the world around me.
It’s like with friends you haven’t seen in years. You would assume you’d have tons to talk about making up for lost time, but actually, you end up having less to say, because the connections aren’t there. Each has gone their own way, points of contact and commonality have separated, and so you don’t know where (or how) to start. And so you share some inane pleasantries, and then you move on.
There aren’t that many of us who preach, but we do connect. With the holidays drawing near, it seems maybe now is as good a time as any to begin strengthening the connections we have. I would hate to be standing over the punchbowl at some gathering and have little more to talk about than news, sports, weather, or the state of my grass.
Which reminds me: dandelions make a wonderful Christmas gift. Not only can you not kill them, they help clear your sinuses each spring in this, our valley.