What are you doing this weekend?

A couple of months ago, that question felt a little easier to answer.  Usually, I would be heading out for a Saturday morning ride on the Shadow with the hubs and our little “biker gang”, followed by wild and crazy chores like laundry and weeding.  Sunday morning would be church, shopping, catching up on reading, a nap.  Every 2-3 weeks, the routine would be interrupted by sermon prep and preaching.  Or the weather.

Now, when people ask, I pause.  I’m never quite sure how much to say about this chaplaincy internship.

For the casual query, there’s the intentionally vague “Oh, not much… laundry, church, you know…”  But for the most friends, I’ll mention doing a couple of internship shifts.  And laundry, since that seems to be endless.

I’ve not quite figured out how to tell them the whole truth…  That I’m spending 12 or so hours serving alongside nurses and doctors who don’t ever expect their patients to get better.  That I wonder every time I park the car at the unit whether I’ll attend someone’s death before I leave.  That I’m beginning to see the difference between a patient who is declining and one who is actively dying.  And that all of those things make me wonder why we get so riled up about stuff like traffic, annoying children and getting stuck with the sock-matching part of laundry duties.

When do talk – maybe a little too comfortably – about my weekends, people go a little pale or at least very quiet.  This makes sense, given our culture’s very intentional avoidance of any mention aging and mortality.  But it’s a little sad, too.  We work so very hard to cover the gray, smooth the wrinkles and extend the number of our days, but to what end?

Now, I’m as guilty as anyone.  As I’ve let my hair go back to its natural color over the past months, I’m seeing that some of those blonde highlights had some silvery help.   I actually need my glasses, so I can’t use them to push my bangs out of the way any more.   I see my mom’s hands clicking away at my keyboard sometimes.  And vanity rears its head.

I don’t spend as much of my time creating a better world as I would like to claim.  After all, I’m busy (frightfully busy as Madame Blueberry sang in her VeggieTales debut).  But I am beginning to see that all of that business and vanity are ways that I’ve bought into the culture around me.

Slowing down, being real, making friends with death… what if they point to living in harmony with the world and its rhythms, seeing other real people with real needs, having the time and energy to be there with them and love them?

What am I doing this weekend?  Pondering harmony and love.

You?

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