Rector's Ramblings September 18, 2019
You can’t plan for everything, but you can plan for a lot! That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway. Donna jokes that I have a knack for thinking of all the things that might go wrong. And I do. Not in a pessimistic way, mind you, just in an analytical way. I don’t anticipate everything, but I do tend to think several steps down the road. This is why I think I have been a good team player with our hurricane planning. Our small group (Alice and Fred Barlow, Glenn Queener, and I) is pretty good about running down a list of what-ifs, as we learned recently when we put our brand new plan to the test for Dorian.
Now, we missed a few things, and have been updating the plan with learnings from Dorian. None of us, short of psychics, is really able to anticipate everything. Nonetheless, it is worth thinking through what we can and making preparations as we can. This same mindset is proving beneficial for the upcoming Diocesan Walkabouts the week of October 22. Although I tried to say no when the Standing Committee asked me to be a part of the Transition Committee, I realized that I had some gifts in this area, having helped organize walkabouts in a previous diocese. So, I’ve been leading the diocesan team that is preparing to shepherd all five of our bishop candidates around the diocese for six days. Let’s just say my knack for spreadsheets and planning is coming in handy.
And then there is sabbatical planning for next year. Although you’ll hear more about it later, I am delighted to say that Christ Church and I received the grant we applied for. The Lilly Endowment funded National Clergy Renewal Program that awarded the grant has just published their press release, and we’ll be turning it around with one of our own. (I know some folks mistakenly thought I was on sabbatical this summer, after describing the application process for 2020 this spring when the application was due – I wasn’t on sabbatical this year, just the Holy Land trip and some family vacation!) That said, the centerpiece of the sabbatical involves almost 90 days of RV travel around the country. That has meant mapping out routes, campgrounds, and stops well in advance, and then trying to figure out all that goes with it. It’s an ongoing process with a lot of details.
The joke is always told that if you want to make God laugh, tell God your plans. That doesn’t mean, however, that we shouldn’t plan for things. In the game of life, we make plans and then adapt and revise the plans we make as we need to as we go through life. The book we’re reading right now on Wednesdays references our need to surrender to things that we can’t control, or which affect our ability to make choices. It’s all part of the excitement, right? No matter what we try to anticipate, something will catch us off guard and surprise us.
September is national Preparedness Month, and the FEMA Ready.gov website’s theme is, ”Prepared, not Scared.” I like that. That’s why we prepare for what we can, anticipating as much as our brains will let us ponder. It’s one of the safeguards for us, who are “wearied by the chances and changes of this life,” as the prayer book refers to it. It helps to prepare our homes, our budgets, and ourselves for disasters. It’s good for successful events to consider what might happen before it does. And, it’s important to prepare our spirits for what might come through regular prayer, worship, and community. It assures a baseline of preparedness for spiritual tribulations that inevitably come.
We don’t have to and shouldn’t be scared of what’s coming. We shouldn’t be pessimistic, either. We can be practical about things without getting lost in dark and scary corners of our minds. In fact, when we plan, we usually feel less afraid and less burdened. That’s the thought behind such processes, anyway. So here’s to being prepared, laughter and all!
Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hoursof this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. - From the BCP service of Compline