Once there was a river in the valley
With water clear as crystal casting diamonds in the sun,
Now the river bed is dry and empty
And no one knows where all the water's gone...
But somewhere from the East there come the memory
That weaves the morning sunrise with the river's sacrifice
And those who trust the movement of the centuries
Can still see the river's flow between the times...
Between the times of plenty,
When the water's just a trickle in our lives,
At the time that we must grieve
Because the words that we believe
aren't coming true...
What shall we do between the times?
(Marty Haugen, Between the Times, from the CD
Turn My Heart: A Sacred Journey from Brokenness to Healing, GIA Music)I was sharing Marty Haugen's CD Turn My Heart with a friend on Friday, and somehow this song just struck me powerfully. Earlier that day, I'd been listening on Chicago public radio to an emergency services worker from Texas talking about having been nearly drained by one hurricane relief effort, and now facing yet another natural disaster in their back yard, and wondering where the strength will come to deal with this new crisis.
God help me, but I understand just a tiny bit of that.
I would never be so grandiose as to compare the mini-dramas in my life to the challenges of leaving house, home, job, and possessions to flee for one's life. (Let's face it - I am grandiose, but that's just a bit much, even for me...) But in talking with my friend Tom last night, it came to me that I've been living in a state of "not-really-there and yet not-really-here either" for a year and a half. And to be honest, it's getting damn old.
A year ago, I was so annoyed that I couldn't be present for my home congregation's Power in the Spirit conference on evangelism and outreach, and I really hoped I would be able to attend this year's conference (a two day extravaganza with noted author Leonard Sweet and a concert with Denver and the Mile-High Orchestra).
But with the potential of my current work ending as soon as this Friday, and the one possible/probable position I have not starting for two or three weeks, it really seems like "the next right thing" would be to stay put, to save my sheckels, and continue to work to find the next new position (or find another temporary position in the interim). It just doesn't seem to be the right thing to be spending $150-plus in gas alone to drive to KC (although it would be preferable to flying, and not having a car when I got there).
The damndest part of this is that I was really looking forward to some time away. I haven't been out of the Windy City since Easter - I'd hoped to be in Toledo for Memorial Day, but then the whole move drama started, and now, all of a sudden, it's the eve of October. And to be honest, as much as Chicago can be a fun place, I'm just ready for a break that doesn't have to do with unpacking or boxes or job-hunting or anything else. It woulda been nice to have some real "sabbath time" to rest, relax and worship - not to mention seeing some great friends.
The other annoying part was that I'd been inspired recently to plan the trip so I could stop in West Des Moines to visit Lutheran Church of Hope, pastored by my late mentor's son Mike Housholder, and to experience their Thursday night Immersion post-modern worship service. (To be honest, I've wanted to do that since before I left the seminary.) But while this time away could be restful and encouraging and all that crap, it just doesn't seem very damn responsible to do it. And recognizing all this just makes me kinda cranky...
Now, before any of you start with the "Well, you certainly have some high-quality problems in your life, Mr. Whiney-Pants" comments, trust me - I've already said them to myself. Daily, in fact. I know my own tendency to be "King Baby" when I don't get my way, and I really do try to resist it. I really, really, reeeeaaaaaalllllly do appreciate that there are no dead bodies (or parts thereof) floating in my street or alley-way. I really do give thanks for employment, and cash flow (be it ever so meager) and a place to live that's not threatened by either man-made or natural disaster. I'm grateful to be sunny-side-up, suckin' air and sober (that one's for you, Tom...).
And maybe this is just me being a whiney ass. God knows, I've had enough practice that it should be second-nature. When I was sharing these thoughts with my friend Natalie by phone earlier tonight, I said, "Yeah, well, folks like me need to do some bitchin'-n-moanin' at times, just to keep our 'chops' in shape."
Staying here would be the adult, responsible thing to do. I just don't want to do it.
The answer to the questions Marty Haugen asked in his beautiful song and meditation, Between the Times is sometimes simply to get still, quiet down my thinking, and accept that I am "between the times of plenty." Hopefully this is not my last stop on the merry-go-round, but it's also probably not the time to do something rash, no matter how well I can justify and rationalize away the objections.
For now, the "next right thing" to do would be to clear off my bed, get to sleep, and get the day started ealier than usual tomorrow. And to offer up a heart-felt prayer for serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change thing things I can, and the wisdom to know the differece.