Another day has pretty much come to an end, and as I have finished watching a couple of TV shows I like, I thought I’d put down a few words in my blog. I realize it has been a while since I have posted anything of consequence, and so I thought I might give you a little slice of my life as the pastor of a small town church.
After arising I made a few phone calls. My church is trying to get permission to lease space to a program run by the school district for middle and high school students who can no longer attend regular school for disciplinary reasons. This would provide us with extra income, help us to do some needed renovations to the church building we cannot afford to do ourselves, and also raise the profile of the church in the community (not to mention providing a needed service to the community and students). Of course, the bureaucracy in our small town is stifling, and this project may soon be history since there are so many hoops to jump through (zoning, codes, etc . . .), and we are quickly running out of time.
None of my calls proved fruitful at all, adding to my growing sense of frustration. I then drove to the church to open up our non-profit bookstore for a couple of hours. After getting settled, I walked outside to find a man in his early thirties sitting in front of the office door . . . nude. it is not the sort of sight one sees everyday, and my natural inclination was to turn around and go back into the bookstore. This would not, however, be very pastoral, and in fact a senior citizen’s chorus which was practicing in the church would be leaving soon, and not wanting them to have to see this young man in his birthday suit (let alone have to deal with him, I stopped and asked the young man if I could help him. All he said was, “Can you call the police. I need to be institutionalized.”
I granted his request and waited with him until the police came. His name is Kevin (if you care to pray for him), and it became obvious that he was a very troubled soul and needed help beyond what I could offer. The main problem, however, became more obvious when the police arrived. It seems this kind of thing happens more frequently than I realized. There are quite a few people in our small town who probably would have populated the state mental institutions in days gone by, or they would have at least been placed in halfway houses. Nowadays, these facilities either no longer exist or are hopelessly overcrowded. And while in the past many of these places were horrendous, governments, instead of developing new models or ways of treating these individuals, basically leave these folk to their own devices. A few can make it on their own; many can not. Kevin was one of the latter. He was hungry, had no place to sleep, was schizophrenic (in his own words), and knew of no other way to get the help he needed (even if that help was only a meal, a bed, a shower, and some medicine). One way to do this is to strip down to your birthday suit in a public place (churches are good locations for this)and ask for the police to be called.
The police were kind and got him to put his clothes on before they took him away, but I was left to wonder about the kind of society (and I include myself and the church therein) that allows such things to happen.
A few minutes before I was to close the bookstore, another one of our town’s troubled souls came in to talk. Bob (not his real name) is an unstable person, but i have never had much trouble with him (other than the time he stood up in the middle of my sermon on joy one Sunday morning and shouted “F you,” before storming out. Needless to say, Bob was not feeling particularly joyful that morning). Bob has also had a near physical altercation with my associate pastor, and He is a man up to his eyeballs in conspiracy theories about the world and the way it is run. A conversation with him is always a draining experience, but I listened as he shared with me some of his more recent theories and ideas, After this, I decided it was time to close up shop.
As i was leaving, I avoided an encounter with Betty (again, not her real name). Betty is a yet another troubled soul in our community, and she is always looking for prayer. Now, it is not that I don’t want to pray for people (after all, I am a pastor), but Betty engages in a sort of guerrilla stalking and often sneaks up on you with her insistent prayer requests/demands. On top of this she always has the same requests, and she never, ever listens to any advice one might give her. After the events of the day up to this point, I was glad to see her rush over to ambush Bob, instead of me, as I was turning the corner.
The highlight of my day came about two hours later in the form of a brief phone call with my daughter. I call her every day, and though our conversations are rarely long, they are often some of the best parts of my day. Today was no exception, and we made plans for my attending her chorus concert tomorrow.
After this I had a good dinner with my housemates (Jim did a great job with steak), and I settled in to unwind with some TV, which, as you read above, brought me to my blog and this post.
Well, there you have it folks . . . just another day in the life of yours truly. Time now to get ready for bed and another one tomorrow. Take care.