January 13, 2006


Today I spent 90 minutes with Edith, our church pianist, going over two of the songs for worship on Sunday. She is a dedicated yet insecure person who worries a lot and needs to be held by the hand (figuratively speaking). Every day she knocks on my office door just to ask if there is anything she should know before Sunday. It takes 15 minutes for me to tell her no, everything is right there in the bulletin which she has in her hand, and to promise her that I will be at church early to help her go through the songs and hymns.

When she leaves my office, she always says to me, "The Lord be with you. Vaya con Dios...," and then she adds, "Do you know what that means?"

"Yes, Edith. Thank you."

Then she gives me a hug, turns and walks out the door.

I close the door behind her, but I don't return to my seat, not yet. I remain standing, with my hand on the doorknob, because when Edith gets eight steps toward he car, she stops, turns, comes back to the door, and knocks again. I open the door, and she asks one more time, "is there anything I need to know?"

"No. You're all set."

"OK. The Lord be with you. Vaya con Dios."

"Bye, Edith."

This Sunday, I will be out of town, at a retreat for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, which means I won't be in worship to help Edith with the songs. That's why we spent 90 minutes going over the first two, which were not as familiar to Edith as the others. She had her copy of Sunday's bulletin, and I had one as well, which I ended up giving to her when she misplaced her own copy. I went through the songs with her, and when we left, she grabbed two more bulletins to take home. "Save some bulletins for Sunday," I said. I knew that on Sunday, she'd go through two or three more.

"I will," she said. "The Lord be with you. Vaya con Dios."

Often, taking a day off is more work for the country pastor than working....

Speaking of the retreat I'm going on, I mentioned in yesterday's post how one of the kids I'm taking is himself a little insecure. Spencer has said that there's no way he'd be going away from home for a two-night retreat if I wasn't going and staying in the same cabin. At thirteen, he acts tough sometimes, but he, too, needs someone to hold his hand.

I see the same thing in my oldest son, Ethan, as well. He's eight, in third grade, and still insists that I stand with him every morning as he waits for the school bus; and every morning as we wait, he makes me promise that I'll not only be home when the bus drops him off a little after 2:00 (my office is in the parsonage), but that I'll open the door so that he can see before he even gets off the bus that I am, in fact, home.

People tell me I'm patient. Sometimes I don't feel patient. Sometimes I get frustrated inside. (Frustration is what led me to write this post, even though yesterday I said I wouldn't post anything until next week.) But I also remember that I was once a kid who was a little insecure himself, who needed someone to hold his hand. Slowly and gradually, with help, I learned to let go, and stand on my own, and I know that Ethan and Spencer will, too. I guess a part of what I'm called to do is to hold on when they need holding-on-to, and to let go and give them a little nudge when they need to learn to stand on their own.

Edith, on the other hand, has been the church's pianist/organist for over thirty years; with her, all I can do is practice patience, and receive her blessings.

(By the way, her real name isn't Edith. I changed it, even though who she is will be obvious to any readers who know her, because she always insists that everything, no matter how inconsequential, be kept confidential.... Did I mention she worries a lot?)


Guido said...

Danny, you never know what God is working through you. Edith may be touched by the grace you bear more than you ever realize. Don't sell those moments short. You are not growing weeds, the growth you are working towards is slow.

Anonymous said...

Danny, thanks for another great post!

Perhaps (and I speak from experience) Edith came from an abusive situation at some point in her life....? I remember as a child being terrified of doing something wrong, because in certain situations that led to a world of hurt, both emotional and physical. Some of these instinctual reactions are very hard to shake.

I was fortunate enough to have some fabulous people in my life that helped and encouraged me to take steps forward. These people were everyone from teachers to my spouse to my pastors and fellow members of my church's congregation. Even though I'm older now, and appear confident, there are times where I still need encouragement and solace, especially when starting something new.

Their encouragement has in turned helped me to seriously consider ministry as a way of giving back, something I can do as part of my faith.

So who knows what your patience with Edith will lead to? True, she's been doing the job for 30 years, but maybe she might step forward in other areas of her life. God bless you for the grace you show to Edith.