College was a time for experiments.
Mixing songs with sex, ideas with drugs.
The God I had come to know went up in smoke.
I replaced the living Word with words from lives
That thirsted for truths to absorb the Truth
And hungered for rights without Righteousness.
I wrote a book my senior year called,
Life (in obvious places)
Filled with family stories and ones I’d conceived.
At the end, a coquettish Claudia Matson asks the narrator –
“Why don’t you write any love stories?”
“I don’t know any,” he replies.
I took a job at a plastics factory.
And started going to a country church.
Filled with farmers and grandmothers
Who made room for me in my stained Salvation Army clothes.
Smelling of smoke, looking for a God of substance.
Easter Sunday, on my way to church.
I saw a grey-haired woman in a tattered coat wandering.
I pulled over and tried to help.
She didn’t know where she was and I didn’t know where to take her.
We were both lost.
I drove her to a downtown church.
Dressed in his Easter best, a usher gave her a donut and some coffee.
He sat with her and helped her find her way home.
I left the church in tears.
Finding strength to be weak in a community of grace.
I went to seminary to serve God with my mind,
Hoping my body and soul would follow.
In class we looked at the language of Scripture
And discussed how not to talk about God.
In my pastoral work, I found God…
… in the joy of boy who would never speak.
… in the songs of prisoners longing for freedom.
… in the tears of a man praying beside his dying wife’s bed.
I say I found God, but really God found me, and I didn’t run away.
I met Alice in the office of a friend.
She was arguing with the phone company about a deposit.
I said to myself, “I want her on my side.”
Within 6 months, we were engaged.
We moved to a 3-room row house in South St. Louis.
The heat was unbearable,
Steam rising from the asphalt.
We passionately loved and more passionately fought.
From this conjugal clash, a child was conceived.
We moved to the countryside,
And I became a pastor,
A shepherd of a frozen flock.
I preached sermons on Sunday,
And took out the trash on Tuesdays.
Sarah was born in early Spring.
There was a chill in the air and ice on the roads,
But we barely noticed.
We brought her home to balloons and signs
A Noah’s Ark nursery.
We made her first week a music video
with Sandy Patty singing –
You are a masterpiece
A new creation He has formed
And you’re as soft and fresh as a snowy winter morn.
And I’m so glad that God has given you to me
After a week, I was spent (or so I thought).
I retreated to my office and didn’t come out
Even when I came home.