Thursday, October 27, 2005

I Can't Think of a Title

Today was a weird day.

Nothing really weird happened to me. All was as it should have been as far as the office, the tasks at hand, the laziness of the cats as they saw me out the door. No, all that was pretty typical, ordinary, run-of-the-mill. Everything was as it has been for months.

It was me who felt a little weird, a little out of place. Still churning Scott's words over in my mind and fresh off the heels of my first experience with pure horseradish, it was a day of The Pensive Absent-Minded Stare. I fazed in and out of the morning work, taking an extra long while to look out over the cemetery and the stones standing at attention, then moving slightly to the right to gingerly sweep my eyes across the mishmash of books on my shelves. I leaned against one of the chairs reserved for those seeking counsel, sipping my Cafe Peru, questioning whether my book of the week would fit better in the Ministry section or the Christian Education section after I was through with it.

My eyes rested on a certain candle that I've retained over the years. I'd bought it shortly after moving to St. Louis. It was a scented candle, Pine Forest. I'd usually light it late at night with all the lights off and just think about What It All Means, move in and out of prayer, pluck strings on my bass. This morning I picked it off the shelf, stuck my nose in it, and sniffed. For just a split second a memory passed through my mind and was gone just as fast. I couldn't tell you what it was, I just know that it was there.

I was visited by one of the church's little treasures. She's two years old, and had been adopted from China by two loving parents just over a year ago. She handed me a bag of cookies that she'd helped bake (her first time helping, no less) to let Pastor Jeff know how much we appreciate him. I then got to hear her talk about going as Lilo for Halloween and how much she likes Kim Possible. I kept egging her on to say 'Boo yah!' and she was happy to indulge me. After we said our goodbyes I wandered back over to the bookshelf, truly thankful for the visit. But I still couldn't completely shake whatever was causing my reverie.

It followed me to the pet store when I bought cat food. It followed me back over to the church to practice my sermon. It followed me to my committee meeting. It was some sort of inward call to take everything at half speed, to not let the bastards get me down, if any had been trying. If it had a body it might look like Jabba the Hutt. If it had a voice it might sound like the Fonz just saying 'Eeeeeeeeh...' over and over again.

It's not always the most stressful life, the most exciting, the most revolutionary. Some days you just feel like doing nothing else than staring at gravestones and book spines, sipping coffee, sniffing candles, munching on a cookie made with love and just giving the whole world a big 'Yeah, whatever.'

'Yeah, whatever' to those who think my career is misguided, worthless, overrun with corruption or laziness. I've heard it all before. You don't think that those of us who have chosen to stick around are aware of the basic points you raise? I love my people and when I can share a moment of Meaning with any of them I am thankful.

'Yeah, whatever' to those who think little churches aren't successful. If you want to define church 'success' by numbers, you're in the wrong vocation. Go join Wall Street for that kind of crap.

'Yeah, whatever' to the endless liberal/conservative bellyaching/fingerpointing/no accountability punditry that runs rampant across the blogosphere and across the nation. To the former, you're boring. To the latter, you're ruining our country.

'Yeah, whatever' to making the church cool. Want to make the church cool? Write a gospel that doesn't end with Jesus on the cross. Then try to explain why your faith is any different than what you see on Oprah.

This post morphed from Jabba the Fonz to Oscar the Grouch. It's a subtle line of difference. What I felt this morning was a 'Que sera sera' sort of 'yeah, whatever.' I guess this is the next stage. Hopefully the next one is Jeff the Kingdom Seeker, or maybe that permeates every phase.