Virtually every media outlet will have a "year in review" this coming week. It's the usual air time filler produced to run between Christmas and New Years.
We'll be invited to look back at pop culture, politics, lead stories, and trends. Because we have a short attention span, the recollection of things happening no more than 12 months ago will seem a distant memory. That is not among our most endearing traits.
We'll see video packages of key figures in our culture who died in the previous year. Their deaths remind us of what we've lost and that we're not what we were.
I've found myself rather introspective of late, looking back across my year that was to help give me a course to steer in the year at my doorstep.
So here's some thoughts about my year in review-
Once again I find myself at the breaking point of a lifelong struggle with weight and the anger, shame and self loathing that are my constant companions when I consider that I've allowed this to happen---again. At my age I can no longer afford the delusion that I'll get it right one of these days. If I desire longevity and vitality I've got to "find some balance here."
The "Dr. Phil" voice would argue that I must find something in this struggle that I'm looking for, otherwise I'd change it because we can't change what we won't acknowledge. So what is it? I've been reflecting on the year that was. It hasn't been an easy one, and at times quite difficult. Just because I'm called to do a certain work, and sometimes do it pretty well, does not mean there is no toll taken. Who is pastor to the pastor? Right now that's an open question. There is a direct correlation between how I'm dealing (or not dealing) with life healthily, and the insulation I add to my physical frame. Rather than thinking of storing up for a winter's hibernation, the added weight I pack on serves me more like a Kevlar vest presumably to protect my heart from the perceived threats "out there." And I think it's always been that way for me, from childhood on.
While I've not always given my permission to ponder such things, I think I'm right on this one. It's a self-protection mechanism, that ironically, is going to damn near kill me if I don't find a way through. How is it with my soul? Look at my body and you'll see the answer my mouth dares not speak.
For a Song -
I don't know when I've sung more than I have in this past year. It's been a long time, probably not since Asbury days as Glad River was coming together and we were recording and touring, and I served as Associate with a singer as Senior (MM). Fun days. Music is as much soul medicine for me as anything. I've been reminded of that great quote from Augustine, when we sing we "pray twice," Guess I've been doing a lot of praying. I recently saw a video of me singing and was taken by how different my countenance was. I could see it. My affect is almost transcendent. Held in juxtaposition with the usual "me," I have to say I like the "me" I am when I sing a lot more than the "me" I am when I don't.
In my current appointment, I'm blessed with very talented musicians. At times I've tapped into my inner rock star when we do tunes of the 60's and 70's to augment our worship experiences. Even bought myself my own solo mic - EV- N/D767a. Yep, all about the tunes.
And then there's The Travelling Cokesburys (click and check us out) which has been an utter blast (CD coming soon). To be able to play and sing with John Kilzer has been a treat. But it is our project, hymns from the Cokesbury Hymnal, that has allowed me to reconnect with a touchstone of my faith that had meant so much. It's not the hymns themselves that matter as much as my recollection of the congregations I grew up singing them in.
In Search of Community -
My clergy group, of which I've been a part on a weekly basis since 1990, is struggling to survive. While its number and configuration has changed many times over the years, with just three of us left the inevitable is upon us. I don't know what that means for me. For a long time we tried to model what healthy clergy relationships could look like, those in which we lovingly hold each other accountable. Sometimes we were actually good at it. But itineracy and attrition has moved this group to a perilous state, and I'm saddened by that. I'm also worried because the loneliness of those in clergy, something for which I had a weekly antidote, is now evermore in front of me in the year ahead.
Reconnecting with friends of my past, those who knew me, loved me and trusted me long before I claimed a vocational life has been one of the greatest blessings of this past year, no question about it. I hate to admit that Facebook is partially responsible for that being true, but it is. My friends from Mayfield, Jackson and early Memphis days have each touched me again, and I'm ever thankful. And that's been a complete and welcomed surprise.
I've also been reminded this past year that with some friendships, sometimes you just have to move on. That's something you'd think I would have learned by now. Moving on is what I've done all my life. Close a door, open a door. It's an axiom of we in clergy life that I thought I could ignore or manage because I'm just that smart. Not so much. Learning to do that at peace? That's the trick, and a lesson I'm trying to learn, and so far not so well.
Being a Dad -
For every moment I feel like I did a great job as a dad, there's scores more when I blew it. Too busy, too tired, too distracted...too not present. And yet, my boys affirm in me how much I matter to them. They make me laugh. I make them laugh. And when they are in trouble they know they can come to me and they do. The craziness of my home life since Kristy took over the stores several years ago is that I'm now by necessity a part of the dailyness of running the house, and tending the family. It gets to be nuts but it's been a blessing. And in the new year I'll have my first graduate. Not sure what that's going to mean for us all just yet, but it ought to be interesting!
So there's a look back at me. For what is right and good I'm thankful. For what of it that lingers, that I'll carry with me into 2011 as baggage I hope that just saying some of it out loud is the first step in unpacking.
Happy New Year!
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