In the Meantime,
Borders exist everywhere, when you think about it. We mostly think of national borders with their immigration and customs portals. I have crossed such borders at least fifteen times. But there are also state borders marked by signs saying “Welcome to Ohio” or some such. As I sit in OHare airport on my way back to Phoenix I am on Central Time on my way to Mountain Standard Time, crossing time zones whose borders are invisible but my body knows them.
Other borders, though, are harder to perceive – between baby and toddler, adulthood and age, for example. Church experts talk about different sizes of congregations like ‘pastoral’ and ‘program’ which differ in how the work but exactly where the line divides them is impossible. What about sick and healthy, rich and poor, naughty and nice?
A year ago I talked about liminal times, when familiar borders get blurry. That was especially true for you, with three staff departures, two staff replacements, and the pandemic on top of all that.
It was exhausting. Unable to rely on established patterns and staff, everything took more time and effort. A lot of last year was just catching your breath and regaining your balance. No wonder you are really eager to get back to something that is less uncertain, less fluid, less work.
I could not agree more. This is my first interim, and even veteran interims tell me it is like working 130% because of the added tasks. Boy do I want to slow down, ease up, get back to some routine.
But that is also why we keep having Covid surges. People are tired and thus fall back into pre Covid habits, or defy them. And that is exactly when the virus comes back. So in a similar way, expecting to be normal this year is premature. For one thing, the usual work of selecting a new minister is always hard. Not just the Search Committee but the whole community has work to do. The long awaited Monsoons revealed roof leaks that must be fixed and paid for. You know about the cranky AC units. You have a 130% year coming as well.
How do we cope? By ‘keeping our eyes on the prize.’ My task is to remind you of the goal. Like marathon runners, we are feeling the fatigue, but the goal is what pulls them through. Or think of yourself as a ship that had to come to port last year, and me as the pilot for that ship. I got you docked and safe, and this year we are refitting and refueling. I will help you get back out to sea, where you and your new minister can chart a new course across the spiritual sea. Smooth sailing is still a ways off.
Right now is the time to patch the hull and lay in stores. Haste really does make waste. I assure you the sea is out there and will be worth the wait and the work. – FW –