Knock, Knock.

Funny things happen when you’re a bit mentally tired. My favorite Interrupting Cow knock-knock joke becomes absolutely hilarious, especially when told to unsuspecting cashiers at the grocery store. Because sometimes, albeit with great friendliness, they feel the need to comment with an assumption about why I’m purchasing a multitude of paper plates, and paper bowls, and paper napkins. Sometimes I don’t like using dishes. Sometimes I think recycling makes more sense than filling my dishwasher and hearing the water being wasted. The largest part of the High Plains Aquifer that serves western Kansas is the Ogallala Aquifer, and I was taught to worry about the depletion of it as a resource for many years. So no, very nice grocery store cashier, I’m not having a big picnic for all my friends over Labor Day weekend, I’m choosing to use paper plates because of the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer and/or because I’m tired and don’t want to load my dishwasher, okay?? That was the conversation inside my head; what came out was: “knock, knock”.

At which point both the sacker – “yes nice sacker person, plastic is fine thanks for asking this person in the process of purchasing all kinds of paper goods” – and the cashier froze. “What?” the cashier asked.

“Knock knock” I say. Now they look at each other, I know trying to determine whether to call over the security guy. “KNOCK, KNOCK,” I say again with great firmness and no small amount of drama.

Finally, the sacker, who is a teen, laughs and says, “who’s there?”

“Interrupting Cow,” I say.

“Interrupting Cow wh…” –

“MOOOOOO!” At which point I laugh uproariously because they obviously have neither one ever heard this joke before. “That’s my favorite joke,” I say to them, “it cracks me up every single time! And don’t worry, I’m fine if you use it and don’t give me credit.”

When mental tiredness hits, we become what we often call slap-happy, or punch-drunk, or a little like what we see toddlers doing when they are running around exhausted but fighting sleep as if it were their greatest enemy. Do you remember the last time you didn’t want to go to sleep because you didn’t want the day to end? Because you didn’t want to miss a drop of the life that you’re living and the experiences you’re having and the friends you’re seeing and the entertainment that somehow the world itself seems to be providing? We may become mentally tired because the wonder of the world is just too much to miss. And we may become mentally tired because the troubles of the world are just too heavy to bear.

Grace hosted the Installation of our new District Superintendent on Sunday afternoon followed by a Town Hall Meeting led by our Bishop around the Specially Called General Conference in February for our denomination to continue the protracted “discussion” we’ve been having for the last 46 years over language in the Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality and our inability to come to common understanding or peace around the diversity of God’s creation. So now we have plans – three of them, in fact. Three sets of plans about the logistics of what to do with the “problem” children. Depending on your perspective, the problem children are either those who want to include LGBT, or those who want to exclude LGBT, or those who don’t want to know who is LGBT, or those who do want to know who is LGBT, or those who know scientifically and medically people are born LGBT, or those who don’t believe science and medicine show people are born LBGT, or those who believe two people who love each other and are LGBT should be able to legally marry, or those who don’t believe two people who love each other and are LGBT should be able to legally marry, or those who do believe LGBT people are called to ordained ministry or those who don’t believe LGBT people are called to ordained ministry or… Are you tired of seeing me put those capitalized letters in every phrase? Are you tired of hearing about those capitalized letters? Are you tired of labels at all? Are We? Simply tired of labels for human beings?

Wait, wait, wait… KNOCK KNOCK! Who’s there? Interrupting ghost. Interrupting ghost wh… BOOOOOO!!!! That’s even close to seasonal with the whole Halloween thing a couple months away. You’re welcome. Feel free to use it and not give me credit. snort

So after a long day on Sunday I took my lower dental braces out and popped off the orthodontic elastics connected to the brackets and disposed of them in order to have a bite to eat. I always dispose of the orthodontic elastics and put the lower dental braces in the container they gave me for that purpose, except for when I don’t. And while we’re not telling the orthodontist, I forgot to put the braces and the elastics back in and on before I fell asleep. Monday morning I get up for work, realize I’ve not worn the braces all night and look in the safety container and the braces are not there, nor are they on the counter or the top of the Kleenex box or wrapped up in a paper towel in the kitchen near where I eat, all places they have been placed before in my now 2 and ½ months of teeth movement. After searching high and low, I peered into the trash can, and there it was alongside the disposable orthodontic elastics (miniature rubber bands). A little rubbing alcohol bath and Crest and they were good to go. No worries.

There were a lot of people in that room on Sunday evening for the Bishop’s Town Hall, clearly more than we expected. We had a staff debriefing yesterday and in hindsight would have done some things quite differently, the first being to give up on the need for round tables for discussion and move everyone back to the sanctuary for some space. It’s not always good to have folks who may have extremely different views on a hot topic shoulder to shoulder and breathing the same air. That’s sort of a funny statement to see when you think about it. Some questions were asked aloud. Some comments were made aloud. A LOT of questions were asked more quietly and a LOT of statements were made just under and sometimes a tad over someone’s breath – to be heard or pretended not to – by those sitting all too close. One of the quiet statements made that settled into my heart and soul said only to me was the sadness that the focus of the meeting was NEVER about justice. That not one of the plans was overridingly clear about the call for communities of faith to ask first the question of justice. Instead the focus seems to be in which churches who believe what about who will go where and pay pensions and apportionment responsibilities to who and when and at what percentage. Probably because it’s easier and safer to talk about money and property than it is about people’s lives and our need to judge ourselves and one another for God as acceptable or not so much.

Wait, wait, wait… KNOCK, KNOCK! Who’s there? Interrupting UMKC Volleyball player. Interrupting UMKC Volleyball player wh…’ROOOOOOO!!! That one’s for you, Christi Posey, award winning head volleyball coach of the UMKC Kangaroos and active member of Grace whose team has started this season with more wins than losses. You’re welcome and feel free to use that and not give me credit! snort

I was taking our Staff Parish Chair to lunch Monday, you know, after that looooong Sunday of the three plans and no talk of justice. And as I checked my briefcase for my palm holder containing my driver’s license, credit card and cash, it was not where I always keep it, except when I don’t. I called our nice SPR Chair and said I would be late and that I would explain when I got there and ran home to pick up said holder of valuables from the kitchen island where I second to always keep it, except when I don’t. It wasn’t there, nor on my nightstand, dresser, closet, or bathroom shelving. I drove without legal license to lunch to not be later to meet with the Chair of my Supervisory Committee and then had to ask him to buy my lunch. I know, right? Not a good look, although he kindly said he was planning on buying my lunch anyway… sort of a last supper kinda feel? Just kidding. After lunch I went back home because without those items I’m without identity, financial solvency, and I have to drive the speed limit! Turned the house upside down, nothing. Started to find the numbers to call to cancel my credit card and bankcard and suddenly remembered I had brought in a “to-go” box with leftovers after dinner the night before after that long day and Town Hall with no talk of justice and had responsibly placed the leftover box in the refrigerator. Let’s see, I throw my braces away, can’t find my ID and money, but by golly I got leftovers appropriately put into the fridge – go figure. And upon checking, why yes, yes it was. My ID, credit, bankcard, and cash were in the refrigerator on top of the to-go box. Not. Even. Kidding.

I’m not certain what our denomination will decide in February. I’m not certain we became more clear about that after a Town Hall meeting on last Sunday evening at Grace. I am certain that a common part of human life across any boundaries and definitions we might place on one another, is that when we become too mentally/emotionally/physically tired to function in healthy ways, we aren’t at our best for faith, or friends, or ourselves. I have rested a bit since Sunday. I am enjoying eating off my paper plates and recycling them. I’m still thinking about my Interrupting Cow joke at my local grocery store and deciding maybe I’ll shop at a different one the next few times I go until I’m certain they have me off their “might be a little dangerous” shopper list. And I’m pretty determined/called/committed to staying in the middle of the hard stuff because I believe in grace, and because I believe in Grace. And someday I do so believe, and I’m quite serious, I do so believe that we WILL be able to sit shoulder to shoulder, and we will breathe the same air, AND we will know how and be willing to talk above our breath so all can hear – calmly, firmly, and respectfully with all with whom we agree and disagree – and somehow in the talking and the hearing, we will catch a clearer glimpse of the image of God in one another.

Until then, I now have some cold cash burning a hole in my pocket, the third to always place where I keep it, except when I don’t. snort