Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sense of time

Ever have one of those days that seem to last for six weeks? Ever have one minute that wish upon wish would last longer than a nanosecond? Time is a confusing beast. It changes and morphs and lives on some odd continuum.

At work, tedious typing can go on for days on end, while not even a mere morning has passed by.

At home, challenging moments with my children can stretch like bitter taffy until I am pulled so thin that the whole confection line breaks.

The wonder moments never last long enough. I guess that is what pictures and stories are all about. I guess that is what the Bible is about too.

I'm aging more rapidly now than I did ten years ago. That makes sense. Trust me, if you are still in your 30's. My connection with the merry go round that keeps time running shifts. This week, I had an opportunity to know that perspectives vary. I mean, I knew that. I just told you that, but I witnessed a perspective that is very different from mine and thought I'd share it here.

An older person, older than me, and probably older than me and you plus your neighbor- came in. His nephew had been ill. His nephew at that time was 98. 98 years, not 98 farenheight. His nephew was ready to go home, ready to see God, to visit old friends.

The friend came into the office to just let a little bit of angst go by the wayside or out the window. " I've been looking after him, my nephew for such a long time, and he's not been all fun and games, missy." I nodded my head in agreement, which is what you do when a friend who is older than dirt enters your office to vent.

"He's 98 years old. You don't want to be 98 years old and cranky, I'm just telling you that."

I reached for my jar of pastur-ized chick feed and unscrewed the top and offered him the selection of nuts and raisens, comfort food for any occassion.

He looked over his quadfocals and reached into the jar. "He's been ready, sooo ready to go for a long time."

I thought to myself as I returned the jar its rightful place on my desk, " What? the last 20 years or so have been hard? tough? depressing? " "??"

He turned, heading out and back to the reception area. " Yeah, he's been ready for at least two weeks now."

oh. well. that is a long time, I guess in the scheme of things. Or maybe not.

What's a long time for you today?

Retreat Conversation

We’ve been on several staff retreats since I started this job, and you won’t find much here about the details of those trips mostly because I’m still getting over it/them...... , the difference between the concept and the reality.

I don't know if I ever told the tale of the first trip where I swam, did I?

In my mind, a staff retreat is this: We go to a place not like church. A pewless, altarless, whiteboardless place that is snuggled into the quiet of a faraway calm setting. The aura is cool mint, fresh air and clear skies- they fill our vison... fill up our senses... like a something in the something... ( See John Denver) ah. ahhh. We unwind, rest. We reconnect and strengthen the bonds we braid ourselves into during busy weeks. We think and meditate and consider all that life has to offer. We opt for massages, or manicures, or yoga. Yes. Retreat. 24 hours pass, every stress has dived away from our stressed selves, we are renewed. That's in my mind.

In reality, we pry ourselves away from the mountain of important to-do's that keep multiplying on our desks. We manipulate our schedules, to find a date we can all agree on. We beg the sick people to get well, we plead with those in ICU to hang on 2 more days. We encourage moms -to- be that later is better- to be born in this world, then we pile into our church van, and we hold on for dear life while our leader, our chief, drives us into the sunset.

Suddenly, we arrive at a location that doesn't quite jibe with the one described above and we tumble out. We are shepharded into a meeting room and our retreat begins. We discuss our plans for the coming season, check on each other’s other lives ( outside the walls of the church), and we share and grow build and bond. We dine, and we maybe even rest somewhere in there. We create and determine, we consider and formulate the future. Then we come back to work refreshed and ready to dive into the plans we’ve made.

We go together. We stay together. We work together. We talk together and over eachother. We eat together. We sleep together. We wake together. We brush our teeth together. We whine together. We brainstorm together. We scrapple ideas together….. We unwind at the end of the night by playing games or watching a movie or going out to eat except I’m usually so tired from writing all this down and holding it in my head, that I just want to be a statue out on the yard with the other concrete God-like creatures that stand guard on the grounds of the place we have come to this time.

We use whatever energy we had stored up for the trip ten times over and we create work for ourselves that we didn’t have time to do at work because we are too busy working at work. (Amazingly enough nobody quits when we get back to work after all that.)

The entertainment factor is slim, but I like to collect tidbits when I can and so I present those on a platter for you below....

Here’s the language that runs around the room during our retreatfest... " You just", " I mean," " Here’s how it goes", "My thinking is," " I bet we can fix it", "What I’m saying though, is ", "Those were things in my head.", " So, then", " No, you just", " How will that effect", " I would feel safe", " Could", " So, ", "However", "The more we do that, though,", " On the other hand", " Sure, but", " I guess I’m a weenie", " But what if", "On the other side ", "Why can’t we just", " That’s not what I’m saying", " Huh?", " So, then when can we do that?" "What?" " I’m hungry", " Who said that",
"When did that happen", " But I just think" " Um, yeah", " When do we get that going?" "Who takes that?" " Isn’t it time for lunch" " Who ate the last red skittle?"

Somewhere a bell rings, sometimes I get to ring it, and our retreat time ends. We ride back to church/work and wonder for days later about what we talked about and decided on. Hey, what can you say?
Clarisse is in the building. My office closet, in fact. Her cousins, Chester and his predescessor, Cedric,have lived, fed, stuck and died in my office closet over the last 2 years. Every Fall, a wayward path of rodentia is spotted and there we go again. We set up a columbariumette once, it looked alot like a trash can with a mouse corpse in it, but that is written in an earlier piece here.... and we always send the misguided creatures off to a better world with full prayer.

Being year 3 of this ritual mice visit, I’ve about decided that it must be the winter home, or equivilent of Stuckey's stop off ( Stuckey's is a restaurant that used to line the highways not unlike Cracker Barrel does now) for the traveling mice family. This is a fall event, mostly. 3 years running. Clarisse, unlike her cousin Chester, does not seem to like MnM’s. She must be watching her weight. She also has not found her way into the plastic containers that house the nuts and hot cocoa/tea. She has, on the other hand left tell-tale, and I do mean TAIL signs that she is back from summer camp and is here to move in.
We’ll see how that goes. I’m thinking probably a short term visit at best. I’ll keep you posted.