February 05, 2005

Off Track

Bakersfield, CA; Saturday, February 5, 12:51 p.m. The bus from Burbank has dropped me off, and I'm waiting for the train that will be arriving shortly to take me home. Actually, I'll be on the train for two hours, and then another bus the rest of the way. The mixture of buses and trains is due to the fact that, somewhere along the line, the tracks are under repair and are out-of-service.... As it turns out, that's not the only thing that's "off-track" for me today.

Yesterday I attended the funeral for my aunt, my Father's only sister. The two had shared a house the last year of her life. I also was able to reconnect with my cousins, who I last saw 23 years ago. We were all just children then. It was their mother who had died. In the midst of it all, we had a lot of "catching up" to do.

These past few days were also a time of reconnecting with my Father and my sisters, although it's only been two months since the last time I saw them. We had a lot to talk about, and being with them made me realize once again just how vulnerable we all are, how we think we're on the right path, only to discover that the path is full of twists and turns. While we were talking about where our paths are leading us in the future, I understood why we search for stability and security in our lives. This trip (and the event that sparked it) was destabilizing for me; when I woke up this morning, I couldn't wait until I could get back home, back to my family, back to my normal routines.

However, a phone call a couple of hours ago informed me that all is not normal at home. Ethan, my 7-year-old son, is in the hospital. He's been sick with the flu while I've been away, and Ginger (my wife) was unable to stabilize his blood sugar. (Ethan has Type-1 diabetes.) Ginger took him to the hospital at 2:00 this morning, and, as far as I know, he is still there, and may be for another day or two.

To top it all off, the car needs to be worked on by a mechanic, which, right now, we can't afford.

So, a lot of thoughts are flying through my mind right now, as I wait for my train. Too many thoughts, really. What I need is a quiet, safe place, a retreat, a place to rest: a sanctuary. Tomorrow, I'll find that place. Tomorrow, I will be at that place; I'll be welcomed at the Lord's Table, and will join with my congregation in lifting up our prayers to God. I know that tomorrow --- even though I'm the pastor, and even though I'm preaching, trying to impart what wisdom I have to the people I care about --- tomorrow, church will be for me. It is where I need to be. I have a need to be there.

It's now 1:12 p.m. Time to board the train. I'm going home. I'm going to my family. I'm going to church. And hopefully, I'll get back on track.

Postscript: It's now 9:00 p.m. I'm home, and so is Ethan.

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