A Funkless Week


I don’t know, something about settling in distracts me, I suppose.

I’ve been in my position four months now as of yesterday.  Not too long a time, I know; but long enough to have settled into something of a routine.  I’ve preached the last five Sundays in a row, with a sixth facing me; and adjusted to the constant weekly barrage of preparing and teaching other various lessons or preaching sundry sermons.  Then there are the daily greetings of students with their comings and goings from school.  Not to mention the good fellowship with my colleagues.  I have a great job.

But this is easy to forget.  The initial concentration of compliments on my preaching and teaching has been diluted.  The novelty has passed.  The honeymoon is over.  The parishioners are used to me.

But the criticisms persist.  They have become even more concentrated–perhaps an inversely proportional relationship to the compliments–showing up in subtle and not so subtle ways.  I’m thin-skinned.  So when they do show up–and they always do–I need to recognize them for what they are, take them with a grain of salt, whatever.  But my thin skin wants to make more of them than it should.  I slip into a funk.

It’s a balancing act, being a public figure, like walking a tightrope.

Well, this week has been one of those funkless weeks, on the happier side of things, where I realize just how great my job–no, my vocation–is, where criticisms can’t seem to permeate my thin skin, no matter how they try.  Blessings are seemingly without number.

One of my daughters will study abroad next semester in Italy.  I’m tacitly jealous, sure, for I’ve never been to Italy, let alone Europe!  But I’d do it lickety-split in her shoes.  And Florence of all cities!

My son is showing real signs of musical prodigy.  As a musician myself, and as he is child number five, I’ve known all along that he shows a lot of promise.  But this week I had a professional, world-class music director say the same thing.  Now, what to do with it?

My wife has been posting old family photos on Facebook, reminding me of incredible times we’ve shared as a family these last twenty years.  No one teaches you this in college, but day-to-day family life is more valuable than most things.

Friends and colleagues are boosting my confidence: despite the fact that I’m a new priest, something of a newborn really, my previous experience indeed matters to them.  Of course, the challenge now is discerning my place in the Episcopal Church before my curacy comes to fruition.

Then there’s my friend Tim, a college professor.  I’ve always looked at college professors with something of an envy.  It’s a great job!  They create their own curriculum and get to teach it.  How cool is that!  Also, they get to research and write about things they are truly interested in.  Again, cool!  And as for summers!  Who wouldn’t want to travel to various parts of the world on grant funding to research and study, and have a little time left over to take in some incredible sites?

But this week Tim took an interest in my vocation.  “Now that you’re a curate,” he asked, “what’s next?  Will you be appointed somewhere else?”

“No,” I answered.  “In the Episcopal Church, or at least in this part of it, priests are typically assigned to their first position, a curacy.  But after that they can pick and choose, like most other jobs.”

“I see,” he said.  “Does that mean you could theoretically go anywhere in the country?”

“Yeah, and even a lot of places in the world.  There’s a global Anglican communion.”

“That is really awesome.”

“Yeah, it is.”

So, in the same way I can sometimes cast an envious eye upon the professorial profession, it seems so the professor has cast an eye toward me.  Which reminds me of how good I have it.

Anyway, enough said.  This too–the happier side of things, that is–will pass, I know.  Still, it’s been good to have a funkless week.


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