January 07, 2005


My son Ethan is seven and loves to read. He's read every Harry Potter book, some more than once. Harry Potter is a big part of his playtime, too. He has Harry Potter legos, action figures, computer games, and even had a Harry Potter birthday party last summer, the highlight of which was playing "Pin the Tail on Dumbledore."

One day he asked me, "If you could have one magical thing from Harry Potter be real, what would it be?" He asked because he knows that I, too, have read all the books.

I didn't really have an answer for him then, but I do now. I want a pensieve. In the world of Harry Potter, a pensieve is a bowl-shaped vessel containing a silvery substance that is used to store one's thoughts. If someone has too many thoughts floating around in their head, they can just pull some of them out, one at a time, and place them in the pensieve. If the thoughts are needed later, they can always be retrieved and put back in.

The reason I would like a pensieve is that sometimes I feel as if my life is like a little plastic puzzle in which you slide the squares back and forth, up and down, until they're in the right place and the picture appears. For the puzzle to work, one piece must be missing; otherwise the other pieces wouldn't be able to slide around. I need something like a pensieve, a place where I can put the piece with those extra thoughts while I slide the other pieces around. When I'm done, and the picture appears, I can then put the missing piece back in were it belongs, and see the picture.

A pensieve would be helpful to me because my thoughts frequently interrupt what I'm doing. If I'm visiting with a church member, and something they say triggers one of these thoughts, it's all I can do to fight that thought back into a dark quiet corner of my mind so that I can remain "present." I've become skilled at nodding my head and smiling at such times, while wondering to myself, "What in the world did they just say?" It's not something I'm proud of. It's just the way it is sometimes. And I feel terrible about it, because the people I minister to deserve better.

If I had a pensieve, I would use it every Sunday afternoon. As much as I feel called to being a preacher, it often wears me out, and after all the excitement of Sunday morning, a pensieve sure would be helpful. I honestly don't know how extroverts do it, going from one thing to another, constantly surrounded by people, their thoughts piling up on top of each other like bills that arrive in the mail and are tossed, unopened, into a basket, waiting to be sorted and paid.

Maybe extroverts have an automated sorting system which operates on its own, independent of their consciousness.

I wish I could be like them. Their automated sorting system, I'm sure, comes with an automated retrieval system, so that they're always ready to respond quickly. They can freely ad lib during their sermons, and say just the right thing at the right time; but all I do is start thinking about pensieves.

Honestly, I don't know how I got called to be a preacher in the first place. What was God thinking? And yes, I do feel, in fact, know, that I was called to this. But why? Why me? I imagine that I must have got in on some sort of quota system, that on the day God called me to ministry, he or she looked at the list of those who had already been called that day, and God decided that there were more than enough quick-thinking, loud-mouth types, and God decided that he or she needed one or two quiet, introverted, socially-awkward types to throw into the mix. And so, God called me.

A pensieve would help. I don't have one. All I have is this blog, which, I'm starting to realize, is in its own way becoming a place where I can put the extra piece so that I have room to slide the others around. I guess that makes my starting this blog a somewhat selfish act---I'm doing this for me. But then, even Jesus needed time alone, in a garden, on a mountain, to sort out his thoughts, so I guess it's OK.


the reverend mommy said...

I'm enjoying your blog. I want one too. There are times when I feel that my brain is a piece of bubble gum that has had all the flavor chewed out of it. There are times when I wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant ending for the next sermon, and then forget it by the time I get up. If you find on -- let me know, OK?

the reverend mommy said...

Oops, when I said I want on too, I meant a pensieve, not a blog. I have one of those. =o)