Who Will Pastor You?

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“Who will pastor you?”

“And will you please come back nicer!”

The last words I heard as I left at 7 AM for the airport en route to Israel. Half joking, half serious. Part accusation, part invitation. Seventeen pastors were on the tour. She said sharply: “Get pastored! It’s not like you won’t have plenty of opportunity!”

Opportunity is not my problem, however. My problem is I don’t seek pastoral care. Why? Perhaps it’s because I am a pastor. I know too much. I think the deep reason has to do with me. My distrust. My independence. My fear of being deeply known. My fear of being labeled or categorized. My fear of being Bibleized [I just made up that word – it means “to have a person’s stories of shame reduced or contained by Bible passages”]

So I don’t seek pastoral care. But he sought me.

Sitting on plastic seats with a plastic table cloth eating shawarma in that characteristic paper sleeve a pastor engaged me in conversation. In that Palestinian restaurant in Nazareth a pastor noticed me. Pursued me. We had more shawarma conversations.

Several days later, at another site, I walk through the gate of the entrance and pastor comes up to me. He says something that both surprises and delights me. Surprise because I didn’t expect it. Delight because my defenses were outflanked.

Rarely do my defenses fail me. I’m not often surprised. But when I am, feel impressed by the person who caught me. I feel the congratulatory. “Good job ! Well done! “ Maybe this doesn’t make sense. I don’t know how else to put words around it. I think my emotional defenses are so rarely penetrated. I’m so rarely outflanked.

At the entrance of the complex the pastor approaches and says, “Hey, I’ve watched you. I’ve noticed you never stay still. You’re always looking up something in a guide book or moving or pre-occupied by something. Have you ever read about ADHD? I know a little bit about it. I’ve pastored many who have it. I think you may have it. You should address it when you get back home. You need to care well for your body before you find you can rest in God’s love for you.”

I do have ADHD.

I don’t know if I came back nicer, but I did get pastored.

Lake Merrymeeting

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Some summers we went to New Hampshire to visit my cousins. My memory of those visits has faded. Except for the lake. My aunt and uncle lived on the lake. And for my nine-year old self, nothing else about those visits matter. The lake was what it all was about.

Off the shoreline, maybe 20 yards, was a diving platform. Do you know the kind I’m talking about? It’s one of those square wooden ones maybe the size of throw rug—I’m looking at the one in our dining room. Not very big. You could probably get only about five or six people on the thing. It was sitting on buoys and held fast by ropes or something like that to the floor of the lake. Everyone thought pushing people off was the best entertainment. It often was much like the king of the hill game. Being the smallest and the youngest kid, I was never king.

But in one activity off that platform I had few rivals.

By far the most captivating activity off the platform was diving for chalk. It was a boyhood adventure. Here’s how it went. You’d swim out to the platform, climb up on it, and dive in. You swim to the bottom maybe 6 to 8 feet. On the bottom you felt for clumps of chalk. I was possessed by the work of harvesting chalk.  

The chalk was moist and squishy. Holding your breath for as long as you could, you moved your hand across the surface of the bottom. It was muddy and soft. The water was murky from the agitation. Visibility was zero. Your hand was your guide. Feeling the bottom, your hand would come across a change of texture. With a little more attention, you pulled up a clump of clay-like substance. Chalk. It was white. Being at the limit of my capacity to hold my breath, I would put my feet on mushy bottom and thrust up like superman. Once on the surface I’d throw the wet chalk on the platform and wait for it to dry. I don’t remember what we did with it once it dried. I doesn’t much matter. After taking several deep breaths, the adventure repeated itself time and again all afternoon.

I really don’t know why harvesting chalk was so captivating. But it was. 

The lake was called Lake Merrymeeting. 

 

 

Miracle at St Mary’s?

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We have two dog leashes. My personal favorite is retractable. The kind where the dog can immediately forget they’re on one freely sniffing everything for 18 feet when they are jolted back to the reality of their captivity. I bought the leash on Amazon for $20.

My favorite leash is for large dogs. Holly our 8-month-old Golden qualifies for being large even if she’s a puppy. The leash is heavy duty and its lead is half-inch wide nylon. I am mentioning my leash because Holly and I walk and run a lot. I love it

There’s a park hear our house. It’s St. Mary’s Park. It’s a great park. The park has signage posted around stating if you are caught not picking up your dog’s poo, you’ll be fined. I don’t remember exactly how much the fine is, but it’s not only $50. For me the fear a fine for not cleaning up poo is. . .well. . . intense.

I never used to think about a dog’s poo. Now I think about it daily. So, to avoid a fine one must carry an ingenious invention called a poop bag. I don’t think that’s the official name though.

Now that you have this information, you will better understand why I am tempted to call the event a miracle.

One afternoon – a week or so back – I took Holly on one of our regular walks in St Mary’s park. I did not realize I did not have a poo bag until Holly took her “position.” I did not want to be caught fleeing the scene of the crime so to speak. So, I did what good Christians do. I prayed to Jesus: “Jesus help me! Rain from heaven a poop bag. Please!”

Seriously, all kidding aside, I did pray however foolish or childish. And then it happened. A miracle took place.

Not 30 seconds after I prayed, I see a bag being carried by wind. (I’m not making this up.) The bag was caught up by the wind going up then down left then right. As I’m watching this bag its literally descending. I laugh. It’s crazy, even silly. I was concerned about the rule and I prayed. I’m not about to make a judgment on this being from Jesus or not. My faith is not strong enough to claim anything . But it is funny story. I do wonder how that bag just happened to be in the right place at exactly the right time.

A candy bag.
A candy bag that belonged in the trash
A candy bag that belonged in the trash perfectly shaped for scooping dog poo.
A candy bag that belonged in the trash perfectly shaped for scooping dog poo descending in the breeze.

Manna from heaven?