Sunday, September 15, 2013


Matt has been working long days, away. I am tired, but doing my best. Jasper senses a shift. He recently gave up pacifiers and moved into a "big boy bedroom". Turns out, this doorknob is easier to open than his old room and the newfound freedom has gone to his head.

He used to wait quietly in bed each morning, sucking on his pacifier and stroking his blanket with his thumb until we came to get him. Now he wakes with urgency, ready for the day to begin. I feel hands on my face at 5:45am and hear, "Wake up!" Naps are disappearing, too. And because he's exhausted but in denial, the whining and crabbiness is off the charts.

Yesterday was one of those long days and by 9:00pm, he was still fighting me about everything. We'd had several bedtimes, dozens of books, a few drinks of water, and my rocking chair offer was refused. My sermon was only half done and I kept bursting into tears of frustration. And so, I gave him a dose of Benadryl. I mixed it with apple juice and he downed it while I put the baby gate up outside his bedroom door. He watched from the inside, curious about this relic from babyhood.

"Can you climb over it?" He tried, but it was several inches too high.

And then I walked away while he screamed for me to come back.

Downstairs I opened my computer and began to write. The house soon grew quiet and I waited for a thud - thinking the dose might hit him like a tranquilizer hits an elephant. But it was peaceful and there were tears of relief. I had made it through another day of his bold reaction to all this change. I fed him and held his hand crossing the street and didn't shake him to death. And today, that was enough.

Today was Polka Sunday at Zion! We host a homegrown polka band each fall, lots of visitors, and a potluck. We sing hymns and liturgy to tunes like The Happy Wanderer and Roll Out the Barrel and The Budweiser Song. The ring leaders, husband and wife, dance with jubilee as they rock out on the trombone and accordion. It's festive and warm. I was proud of my congregation for being so proactive about inviting friends and family - we doubled in size and the singing was fantastic!

We follow the Narrative Lectionary at Zion, so today's text was The Binding of Isaac. Because nothing says Polka Sunday like near child sacrifice, right? But there were, of course, good things to hear in this weird and wild Word. Abraham knows both deep discouragement and great laughter. And in the midst of all things, he shows up. Three times he answers, "Here I am". And while showing up might break him, it might bless him, too. I thought a lot about Abraham's tears this morning - tears for every emotion - every breaking and every blessing.

The congregation was in great spirits with one exception - that pastor's son was whining for his mother the whole time and finally his poor, brave godparents had to take his crabbing outside. This is exactly why I don't bring Jasper to church when Matt is gone - he's a drain on everyone when he doesn't have his pew, his dad, and his routine.

So after worship I collected his tears and scraped knees. And instead of welcoming visitors and enjoying the feast with my people, I cowered in a dark room with My Little Terrorist, who was determined to fun-suck Polka Sunday. A few saints tried to help and did. A few others thought they were helpful and I smiled. I hate when my vocations collide and make me feel like the rusty hinge between them. His ache got inside of me and soon there were tears in my eyes, too. Tears of exhaustion. "You broke me this week, Jasper. I don't have anything left. I'm sorry."

The nap was evaded once again this afternoon and I knew it was time to call for back up because:
  1. It was no longer healthy for us to hang out in this house by ourselves.
  2. I really, really wanted to attend my friend Ingrid's ordination.
The village came barreling down 35, timing their departure from the lake just right. They rang the doorbell and said simply, "Here I am". And like Abraham, that was more than enough. They would love him and like him in ways I could not. They would take a turn being broken and blessed while I healed a little bit. And so I cried tears of thanksgiving before grabbing my purse.

The sanctuary was filled when I arrived and, like a late Lutheran, I had to sit up front. I didn't vest since I thought I'd have Mean Jasper with me, but I ended up squatting undercover in a seat reserved for the clergy members processing. 

The music began and I melted into pew-lay-parishioner-not-in-charge mode. The choir and bells and children filled the aisle, chanting about light and love and life. Their voices were strong and seemed to believe in these things, so I trusted them and leaned into their news. It washed over me and filled me with good things. And soon I opened my mouth and sang along.

Ingrid is called and blessed and loved. 
Every time I looked at Ingrid, I wept tears of awe. She will be so very good at this work. She is blessed by the saints who surrounded her - people of every time and place who know and love her and champion this call from God. It made me recall my own ordination more than five years ago and soon my heart swelled with something besides weary insecurity and discouragement. For days I had shown up only to be broken by Jasper. But this time was different. This time I was blessed by the Promise and the Call and the Community. I was being restored by Word and Meal and song and the faces of people who know hard life and who show up anyway.

I stayed late into the evening, laughing with friends and bursting into tears of joy every now and then. I am so very grateful for signs of the blessing: for Ingrid and my village and baby gates and Benadryl and Zion and liturgy and wild rice soup 

and the Call to keep showing up.


val said...


Jill said...

This is wonderful, Meta. It's real and raw and imperfect and sad and joyful and forgiving all at the same time. I'm so glad you answered your Call. We're all blessed because of it.

I'm also glad that you got a break. You needed one. Let's brainstorm ways we at Zion can all help out a little more. We are blessed by your gift and blessed to give back.

P.S. I still chuckle at your quip about Polka Sunday and near child sacrifice. Good one.

P.S.S. The benadryl and baby gate are genius and sometimes necessary:)

Catherine said...

My mother, best of all time, who raised six kids born within ten years nearly solo, said later she would have given any of us away at age 3. I have so been there, Meta. Mean Jasper is a little boy in love with his mom. And Pastor Meta is a fabulous pastor who sometimes needs to focus her vocational output in one direction at a time. Sometimes Mom and Pastor don't mix at all. And sometimes they are a miracle together. There ya go. Mysteries. Tangled up in grace...