I have five preaching opportunities coming up in the next seven weeks, three of them paying jobs, two of them for the parish whose rectory I’m living in. That’s more preaching than I have done since last August. Ten months of living without the weekly rhythm that has marked my life for 10 years.
Last night I took my dogs outside for the last time before bed as we do every night. I stood under this huge oak tree, under a half moon, in the humid but cooling night temperature and took a deep breath. I do love it in Chicago. I do hope I find a job in this area and can stay here. I love the green most of all. The varied hues of green grass and trees are lush, they saturate my eye, with a soothing peace. My eyes, grown accustomed in just a few years to the harsh brown of sand, pale greens of cacti, and the intense vibrant splashes of desert flowers and short scrubby trees, relax in the shades of Midwest green.
I stood outside with my dogs under a huge oak tree and grieved the loss of my life’s rhythm. True I have replaced the rhythm of sermon writing, of pondering how the scripture speaks to my congregation, of finding meaning and purpose in that process, with an intense rhythm of exercise. In some ways this daily exercise is an old rhythm for me.
Thirty years ago I was a dancer and I spent a number of years after college working as a lighting designer and technical director in the dance world. Not having a car I spent many summer days and nights riding my bike some 10 miles each way, to and from work, along the bike paths of Lake Michigan in Chicago. In those days I worked for a nonprofit dance theater company. It was the early 1980’s and the country was in another deep recession. Money was being cut to all the arts. I lived on a very tight budget. But back then I did not have kids and my only debt was a $400 student loan, and even that took me a long time to pay off. Then, like now, my life’s rhythm was exercise and a struggle to make it financially from month to month.
So now I prepare to preach on five of the next seven Sundays. I look forward to doing this, to thinking about the scripture and pondering how it speaks to the communities I will be with. It won’t be quite the same as the rhythm I have when I actually work for a church, but it will be a taste of that rhythm. And a hope that there is more to come.