May 16, 2005

Blah Blah

I'm sitting outside on the ground, my back leaning against the building, staring off into the distance where crest of the Sierra Nevada lies buried beneath a layer of snow that will perhaps take all summer to melt. It's a beautiful sight, framed by the green of the pine trees I can smell and the deep blue of the Sierra sky. Despite the beauty, however, I'm sitting here wishing I were someplace else, anyplace else, and yet at the same time I'm happy to be where I am, knowing that there is no place else I'd rather be. Inside the building are more than 200 people from all over northern California (and one from Hawaii), including thirteen from my own little congregation a 90 minute drive away. They're all here for lunch, and a ceremony dedicating this brand-new building, the dining hall at our regional church's summer camp.

Someone walks by. "Feeling a little anti-social?" he asks. Well, I think, that's part of it. The speechmakers inside are talking about the many people who made the construction of this dining hall possible, the people who donated money, the people who volunteered their labor. Lot of back-patting, lots of praise and flattery. Lots of long-windedness. As my seven year old son would say, blah blah blah.

I'm also sitting outside because, frankly, there aren't any seats left inside. I'm sitting outside because I have my two sons with me, who don't want to sit at all, who want to run around while someone keeps an eye on them. And I'm sitting outside because, yes, I am an introverted pastor, and sometimes a too-full room of people is a bit much for me.

Now, if you were to walk by and see me sitting there, you might be surprised to learn that I (along with my wife) am, for the month of May anyway, our region's staff person for camping and outdoor ministries. It may surprise you to learn that I am the chair of our region's outdoor ministry committee. It may surprise you to learn that every year, I direct a week of camp here. It may surprise you to learn that I, perhaps more than most, understand how important this new dining hall will be for our camping ministry. And it may surprise you to learn that, earlier in the day, both I and my wife had our turns at the microphone. I recognize the importance of the day, and the speeches, and the handshakes and congratulatory back-patting. And I'm thrilled beyond belief that over 200 people have made their way up the windy mountain road to camp, to pack themselves into the new dining hall. That's why there's no place else I'd rather be.

But I'm also wondering, as I do from time to time, how it is that God calls introverts to be preachers, and how much self-congratulatory back-patting Jesus would have done; and perhaps Jesus would have been here, and maybe even taken his turn at the microphone, I don't know; and I find myself daydreaming, as I am often prone to do, about the week I will spend up here with several dozen 9th and 10th graders. It's a week that is not too far off, the first week in July. I know that then, when I see the power of God at work in those young lives, I will be especially grateful to those who have made this place a reality, and thankful for the opportunity I had to share in this day of dedication and gratitude.

1 comment:

PPB said...

Oh my. I'm such an introverted pastor/chaplain myself. It's actually common. Why?