I'm a Stranger Here Myself

Lately my work has allowed me to be part of people's lives in only very small segments.  I am occasionally on call for a parish, for instance, while the priest is away in addition to serving at the altar and in the pulpit on Sunday morning only.  I meet people once or twice, I get a call to visit someone in the hospital, I am involved in a conversation or two about something that is on someone's mind.  I see people in the shake-hands-line after the service and maybe that's it.  Ministry in miniature, or something like that - as opposed to the long view, the large sweep, the sustained conversation/relationship.

This encourages me to listen closely, to be fully present, to focus on now and live in the moment.  It means that I have to claim my priesthood from the get-go and at the same time discern what I am called to do in that place and in that moment, understanding that the answer may well be "nothing, this is not my work" or to redirect the person away from the "fun babysitter" (me) back to their long-term relationship priest.  It means I have learned that one-shot conversations are ministry, too, and that it's vitally important that I consider all the boundaries (particularly mine and my colleagues').

This is all good work for me.  I can't take on things that are not mine in this work.  I can't control much of anything, so I am learning not to even think about that (what a blessing, for me to give up my fantasy that somehow I'm in control of "things").  I am living in the present as much as I can and remembering my Greek teacher's frequent reminder, which was part of the Gospel reading last Sunday, regarding learning a new language:  Take no thoughts for tomorrow, for tomorrow shall take thoughts of the things for itself; let the evil of the day be sufficient thereunto.  

In other words, let today's deal be enough for today.

Some day, I expect I will be back in a long-term relationship with one parish.  But the work I am doing now will be a complement to that; what I do now will enhance that.  It is always good to be present and in the moment.