Thursday, August 22, 2019
Last night I received a text from my mother-in-law, “Have you quoted Jacques Philippe before? Seems to me you have. I’m reading his book Interior Freedom. It’s what you preach, and extremely good.”
I reply, “I don’t think I have, but I’d be happy to borrow this book from you when you’re done with it ”
She says, “Sure. A Catholic lady I sometimes walk with loaned it to me. She’s in no rush to get it back.”
Me, “Oh, I thought it was yours. That’s OK. I’ll look for Philippe books from second-hand places.”
She says, “Oh please take it. If you drive up, I’ll run out and give it to you. I’ve got a whole bag from her. She’s old like me, very relaxed.”
Me, “I’m at home tonight.”
She says, “Oh, OK. I’ll drop it off at church tomorrow. I could hardly put the book down.”
Not long after I arrived at the office in the morning, I heard a car pull in. Looking out the window, I recognized my mother-in-law’s car. I run out to keep Camper from jumping on her (Camper is on a long leash between the buildings and is on the prowl for any living being to jump on and slobber all over).
My mother-in-law hands me the book and I say “thanks” and she’s off.
It feels nice to be known.
That someone read something and think, “This is what Brian is all about” is, I don’t know, affirming of my existence. Is it weird to be thankful for one’s mother-in-law?
Work was work, nothing to say about that. Hours in an office. Lack of sunlight. Things that needed to be done were. Not really an interesting story, but certainly part of everyday life.
Later in the afternoon, while still at work, I started hearing happy, loud noises. I suspected it was the youth ministry returning from camp. And I was right. Around that time, I remembered that Camper had been tied up for far too long and would desperately need to go to the bathroom, so I took her out… but couldn’t go towards the young people because Camper loves people so much she forgets about the bathroom. I walked out back, behind the office building to the “staff parking lot.” One of our youth leaders was getting into her car back there—she nodded at me and said, “Hi Camper Rae.”
And I thought, “It’s nice to be known, known by both your first and middle name.”
Camper and I got home later than we usually do. Ashah is working the closing shift at Starbucks and Shari is meeting with her director in Seattle, so Camper and I went for a walk around the lake. In the park, which is halfway around the lake from our house, they were setting up a summer concert and movie—a Journey cover band followed by the latest Mary Poppins reinvention.
Cover bands make me think. I wonder, are they happy or are they sad?
I imagine they are doing what they do, not for the money but for the love of it… like, they do it because they can’t notdo it. But then it just seems sad to me, this life of rehearsed imitation.
While on a short family trip to Seabrook (Pacific Beach), there was a Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s cover band performing on a Friday night in the center of town. And they were good. The lead singer lookedlike Tom Petty. He was tall, thin, weathered and cracked, with long blonde hair and extra-white teeth. The band was tight and sounded pretty much like the real thing too. But, of course, they weren’t the real thing. They were playing for some people who had rented houses on the beach in Washington State.
I suppose they love what they’re doing (why else would they do it? It can’t be for the money) and maybe there is also a tinge of sadness about it too… like, this is who we are—a cover, a copy. I think about this a lot, especially concerning church, because pastoring is what I have done for the past 27 years of my life.
I just don’t want to be a cover band. I don’t want to be some rehearsed imitation of the latest, coolest, most in-demand megachurch pastor. Lord, no! I want to write my own sermons, feeble as they might be.
I want to put on my own shoes and clothes, not just copy what the guy with the enormous church and following and online presence is wearing, or his hairstyle (obviously! I’m bald).
Maybe I’m being too harsh or idealistic. After all, every preacher is supposed to be covering what Jesus said. I don’t know. I guess I wonder… if we covered Jesus, maybe we wouldn’t have the time or energy to cover the mega-celebrity-preacher guys too.
But some things sell better than others.
Camper and I walked home and I BBQ’d some Hempler’s Andouille smoked sausages. Out on the deck, with dinner in my hand, I could hear the faint but distinct sounds of Journey from across the lake.
I get the joy of rediscovering you
Oh girl, you stand by me
I’m forever yours