Thursday, June 30, 2005


The pastors I've come to know and respect are pretty incredible people. Authentic through and through, genuine to the core. Seekers of truth, the lot of them. If they can't do something, they tell you. If they can, they tell you that too. I have learned much from these people I work with and those I worship with as well. Knowing this.....

It was a dark and stormy day. The staff was inundated with tasks, challenging tasks. Mountains and mountains of sticky notes lay strewn along the main hallway. The mounds of paper pieces were connected with paths of spent staples. whew.The pressure was heavy, suffocating. Everybody had too much to do after returning from a convention the week before. Messages to return, letters to write, questions to answer....It all poured in, filled the building, and formed a stream that fed into the Pastor's office. The busy muck slid under his door, eeeeked in his windows, til there was absolutely no escape.

I went into his office to voice a cheery start to the day, and found him, frozen in front of his computer monitor, fingers experiencing major keyboard tachycardia. Random papers were possessed and floating about his head.. The Bible lay open on his desk, pages flipping faster than fast. He turned to me when I came in and I recognized the glazed look in his eyes. Call me Overwhelmed, the tearless pupils cried.
" Doing okay?"
" I'm overwhelmed. Being away is hard on the catch -up end of things.I have so many different things scheduled and now we have a big funeral I need to be working on, I need time to spend with the family,and my sermon isn't done yet..... lots of people to visit in the hospital, meetings to attend, and the painters are coming to paint my office today, too. I love my job, all of it, it is just an impossible matter of physically making it all fit together and today I am, well, you know. ....overwhelmed. Give me a few minutes to finish this and then we'll look at projects for the day, okay?" I looked over his desk and saw his To Do list. It was sweating-some of the small print was trying to bleed off the page.

"Sure, I'll give you a few." and I went into my office. I refilled the emergency stress jar of peanuts and chocolate that resides on my desk.

The phone rang, ER from a local hospital letting me know that a patient had just requested our minister be notified that she'd just been run over by a train-end of message. Did she say train?
What a quandry!! I didn't want to interrupt my boss, but even I knew this message was important.

I got up and gently knocked on his door. It trembled at my touch. I tiptoed in and stood over his desk. He was writing, frantically trying to complete something on the list. He never lost a swirl pen stroke. I waited. He wrote. I waited. He erased and wrote. Finally, I spoke.
" I wouldn't bother you, but someone just called and they've well,they've been run over by a train and wondered if you could come by......"I think that comment was what is commonly known as the "Last Straw".
Hearing my news, he stopped his scribbling. Without looking up, he held out his hand and I gently placed the message into his damp palm. he began mumbling to himself, then he looked at me with the genuine concern a parent gives a child in need.

" I don't know this member." He reviewed my ink scratchings again. "Train?"
" I don't recognize the name either, they aren't in our database, I think they have the wrong church, maybe. I've got a call into another church to see if maybe its them."

"Oh. Gosh.. even at that....they got hit by a train. Geesh, I should go see them."
I sat down and looked him in the eye. I pointed two fingers at him, then ping ponged them back and forth to my eyes then his, mine then his. Look look look. Look at me, think....What can you change to take just a little bit off of your schedule for today? Isn't there anything?"
He looked at his calendar intently.

"Well, I have a meeting with some prospective members. I will just have to cancel that"
Before I had a chance to say, 'wait a minute , give yourself a minute', he had dialed the phone and reached the voicemail of said prospects.

" I am terribly sorry to have to cancel, I want to meet with you and spend some time with you, but I've been away on business, and now that I'm back, I've got a lot of catch up going on,we've had an unexpected death in the congregation and a big funeral to plan, and i've just found out someone has been run over by a train, so if you don't mind, could you call me back with some optional times?
He hung up, slightly relieved, greatly guiltridden and when he looked to me, his personal support- admin support, all I could give him was uncontrollable laughter. I honestly thought I would need to go home and change if he did not stop delivering excuses into the phone.
"What is funny? "
I said," I was just thinking how would I feel if I got your message? Not only have you been out of town, but the funeral- BIG funeral and the icing on the cake- hit. by. a. train??? I think I might be inclined to call you back and just say, 'If you didn't want to talk to us, why not just say that?' It sounds so impossible. I just think it is comedic. "
The tension broken, we both laughed out loud. On this day, truth was so over the top - Fiction didn't have a chance.
The happy ending is that the people did reschedule and as far as I can tell, things went well. For those of you who keep a running list of excuses, take note.

1 comment:

Truthful said...

lol This is a classic!!!!!!