Big, heavy, deep, sobs shook him, making it difficult for him to pray. Each word came gasping out, pulled laboriously from deep inside. My wife and I held his hands, guiding him, helping him find the words.
My heart ached for him, and it grew a little larger.
I wasn’t really in the mood for church today. I got there early, as usual, and went in the prayer room. I lit a half dozen candles. I sat down. I prayed. I waited.
It was a good service today. Before the service there was an invitation to come forward and pray. I did. It helped a little.
The worship songs were well chosen. In singing them I felt my heart lift a little... but not like I usually feel.
The message was good (I'd already read the notes before hand when I posted them here).
Even at church I am busy. Tasks to do between services. Set up for a Sunday School class... There were a number of people I needed to speak with. A woman who wants me to do a small painting for her son, a state legislator who is going to appear on my students’ tv show, a buddy who agreed to repaint the prayer room, my spiritual mentor to verify tomorrow’s meeting, a guy who can help me with a wood surface for a painting I am starting after Easter... and... Oh, I almost forgot... Jesus.
My life is too busy. It is getting busier.
I have an interview tomorrow with the district’s superintendent and the personnel director for a team that will design the philosophy, pedagogy, and curriculum for our school. Important stuff, plans that will affect our school and thousands of children for a very long time. Worth the time and effort. Very exciting. But it is one more task. My life gets so busy I feel like I am on some sort of treadmill.
I’m too busy. Aside from work and my prayer times I have three after school programs, and more importantly, a family that needs my attention.
Frankly, though I try really hard, I don’t understand women. Sometimes I wonder if some people are gay just so they don’t have to try to live with the opposite gender. (Fear not, I'm not going into a battle-of-the-sexes frustrated-male monologue today.) But I recognize that I need to slow down, care for her as the most important human in my life, because she is.
She is a good woman. I love her very much. I wouldn’t hesitate to give my life for her, do almost anything to make her happy.
The house needs my attention. That is a whole other treadmill. The bedroom door needs fixing, the floors are peeling, and the toilet plugged up yesterday. Even when the plug seemed to be cleared it still wouldn’t flush properly. The water was draining, but the bowl wouldn’t fully refill. I finally pulled the toilet out and dragged it into the back yard to see if there was something still stuck somewhere in its innards. I tried to run a plumber's snake through it, and a garden hose...
My mother in law was here, sick because she had spent a couple of days last week watching Jeremiah when he was sick. She needed to use the only other restroom every 20 minutes. That was a frequently occupied room.
And Brenda was having a bad day.
In the most positive moment of the afternoon I reminded her of the evening out we had the other night and how she was having a good day. She said: “A good day is when I’m not screaming on the outside.”
It made me feel sad, and tired, and old.
So I was at church with a heavy heart. I slapped on a plastic smile. I prayed fervently. I tried my best to think of others and how I love my Lord.
After church I fed the kids and went back to wrestling with a toilet.
While I worked I got to thinking. I was thinking about bread.
We had communion this morning and I was thinking about the last supper, the first communion. I was thinking about that loaf of unleavened bread.
I was really thinking about the donkey.
You see that meal, the Last Supper, happened in Jerusalem during passover. In a city like that, and for travelers such as Jesus’ group, the bread was probably purchased from a professional baker. The flour for that bread would have come from a source of wheat able to feed a city full of pilgrims.
Wheat was ground at a mill, a donkey walking around a tight circle, rotating a mill stone.
That donkey probably worked there for a long time. It would spend most of its life there. A lot of grains of wheat poured between those stones while it ground those kernels into flour.
Most of that flour fed regular folks regular meals.
But that week something unusual happened. During that particular week it produce a sack of flour that would be touched by the hand of God. That loaf of bread was broken before twelve close associates and passed around in a symbolic meal that would multiply itself through the ages, like a timeless feeding of thousands from a few loaves, until I reached this morning to pick up a small piece of cracker and place it in my mouth to consider its dryness and how I am far less than my Lord wishes me to be.
That donkey walked around in circles for a long, long time, working, working, working...
Sometimes that is all I can do. Even when I am weary, I need to just keep moving in the circuit He has placed me in and pull that stone.
This afternoon, born of the frustration of unresolved plumbing issues there was a break through with Jeremiah.
Something gave. His heart cracked in a way I have not seen before, and the fears and grief and anguish he has been feeling since the fire came choking out, sobbing out, in a prayer before his mommy and his daddy.
We are tired, and the work is often tedious. But in the mundane work of our lives something unusual can happen. So we are surprised when the result of our labors has a divine purpose.