Friday, February 28, 2014


One of my most recent Facebook statuses was along the lines of "did you ever feel the need to march, but the band is playing in 7/8 time?"
Despite a few musically-minded literalists getting in the way, I wasn't actually speaking of marching to a Brubeck-esque meter.  Do you ever have that feeling of something or everything not being bad, not by a long stretch (it would take a lot, after the cancer treatment, for me to say things were going badly), not really anything being wrong, but somehow everything just ... feels off.
I can't really point to any one thing.  Classes are going o.k.  The internship has slowed down a good bit, but nothing really unpleasant is going on there.  My health, aside from a nagging cough that seems finally to be easing off a bit, is about as good as it's ever going to be.  It feels like opportunities are shutting off or falling through rather than opening up, though (again) it's not as if I can point to any specific example of such a thing.
And yet, whether waking in the morning or going to bed at night, or in the middle of studying or socializing or whatever, everything feels ... just a bit off.

Swinnnnngggggg...and a miss.  So seems life.

It's the kind of thing that only shows up in odd, out-of-the-way things, like the fact that is, on the last day of February, the first time I've blogged since the last day of January.  I've started two or three, but they don't get finished.
I can't shut up when I have nothing to say, and I can't utter a peep when there is stuff demanding to be said.  I feel like a stranger to myself.
I can only guess that it's my middle-aged self's way of dealing with the kind of uncertainty that was (I thought) in the past.  Let's see, there's March and April left in this term, then the May term, and then, provided I don't screw up, I should graduate on May 31.
And then...?

Quit grinning at me, you hateful little thing!

You see what I mean.
I can put my Pastor Information Form (hereafter PIF) out there.  I can scour the opportunity listings daily.  I can try to get on the supply-preaching lists around here (there's no real benefit to moving anywhere without a call at this point).
And...?  The uncertainty is still there.
I jumped into this fool's errand without a real net, so to speak, and now starts the free fall.
There are certain things I know I can do.  I can preach.  Your mileage may vary, but I can write and deliver a sermon, and it can be good.  I can lead liturgy.  I would not necessarily say I'm real smooth and seamless at this point, and I'll still be terrified the first time a real baptism comes along, but I can do it.  I can teach.  I knew that coming in.  Those are all good things for a preacher to be able to do.  Other of the daily tasks of the preacher I can learn quickly enough.  A little brushing up on Robert's Rules of Order may be needed, to be sure.
I'm nobody's idea of an associate pastor for youth, or children, or "families" (wouldn't that be called, you know, an associate pastor?).  I don't think anybody who knows me well would expect that.  That does eliminate a lot of the first-call opportunities out there.  What it leaves behind is a lot of small churches.
I am o.k. with that, as long as it's not a go-broke-for-God expectation (I'm not asking to get rich, but a living wage needs to happen) and as long as there is decent access to health care (that cancer is going to be hanging over me for a few years yet).  I can be bi-vocational if need be, particularly if there's a small college or juco around that could use someone to teach music appreciation or a similar course (that would actually be kind of appealing).  I'm not setting any geographical limits on where I'm willing to go (my wife may have other ideas), even though I can already hear God cackling and plotting to put me under ten feet of snow in Montana.
There are certain things I won't do (aside from those ill fits noted above), but not that many.
Intellectually I knew this was coming, of course.  While I have my benefits, I'm not the kind of candidate who's going to stride right off the graduation platform on Saturday and into a pulpit on Sunday (unlike some of my classmates).  I'm kind of an acquired taste, and finding the right fit won't be an instantaneous thing.
Still, entering the Stage of Unknowing is no fun, and no more bearable now than upon graduation with that Ph.D.  And, as far as I can tell, it's leaving me feeling just a little bit ... off.

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