My October vacation was winding down.  My gundog Nim and I had spent a glorious week visiting my family in Michigan.  We spend time with perhaps my oldest and dearest friend grouse hunting on his farm in St. Helen.  My Father and my Step-Mom were great hosts, even to a very rambunctious 11 month old puppy.  The weather was beautiful.  Perhaps a tad bit warm for grouse hunting, but really, couldn’t have been nicer.

Monday night came with me feeling refreshed and ready to jump back in to the very busy ministry I share with the good folks at St. John’s.

Getting ready for bed I had a, let’s call it a twinge.  A familiar twinge in my right flank.  A twinge that telegraphed obstruction in the right ureter.  By midnight, I was waking up my wife to ‘take me to the ER or put me out of my misery’.  The next morning my Urologist saw me in the hospital and said, well, the lazer worked for 9 months but now we have to do ‘that surgery we talked about.’  ‘Fine,’ I said, ‘how about this afternoon?’  ‘Come on, you know it doesn’t work that way…how about 2 weeks?’

So last Wednesday with a host of preoperative tests and procedures done, the surgery was completed and the obstruction is ‘permenantly’ resolved.  There were sacary moments here and there, complications, setbacks, etc., but the recovery itself has been progressing.

Now, to do nothing for a week.

I a frustrated that this whole thing comes during the peak time of the Pennsylvania Archery seasons (my wife says if I say that one more time she’ll do something painful with an arrow to my anatomy).

I am frustrated that this whole thing comes at a particularly busy time in the life of our church.  We have a new secretary, we are getting ready for a mission emphasis called “Mission 1”, Advent is just around the corner, and a new Director of Music begins in 3 weeks.  In short, I don’t have time for the nonsense of a compromised health condition.

I am so eager for this procedure to WORK, however that for once I am inclined to listen to my physicians instructions and take it easy this week.  I’ve decided to be vigilant in prayer the hours and to do some reading and thinking that I’ve wanted to do for some time.

I’ve gotten back to reading “Cult and Controversy: The Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass,”  “The Pastor: A Spirituality” by Gordon Lathrop, and for the hours I am using a book given to me by one of our Prayer Team: “Praying with the Earth: A prayer book for peace” by John Philip Newell.

I have read Lathrop before and he and I have an ongoing dialogue over this particular piece.  The Nathan Mitchell book is something I’ve been whittling away at.  Newell is not new to me (by reputation), but I’ve not read his stuff before.

I was struck, this time, when Lathrop quotes Aidien Kavanaugh: “Reverence is a virtue, not a neurosis, and God can take care of himself.”

This quote is in the context of liturgical leadership.  I think the same could be said about other aspects of ministry…reverence is a virtue, not a neurosis.

I insisted, to myself at least, that I would not perseverate about everything happening at church while I was here ‘doing nothing.’

I did do everything that I could do, prior to this sick leave, to ensure that others could do what they needed to do.   You could say that I was ‘reverent’ to the ways others would break the bread, speak the Word, and ensure that there was an offering for the poor.  This is Holy ground best not left to chance or happy accident.

The second part of the quote is the most important: God can take care of himself.  I do not know exactly how everything will occur.  The Lord knows that there will be some whose hackles will be raised should some activity not happen in a prescribed fashion.  There may even be something that doesn’t happen at all.

I do not have time for this recuperation nonsense.  Apparently, one way or another, the church will go on without me, and I needed this time to be reminded that.

This Sunday, for instance, my colleague texted me to let me know they were cancelling church because the power was out.  And for the first time ever, with news like that, I smiled.