Where do we start?

Where do we start when starting started more years ago than we might want to count?  My first New Year’s Eve and Day I was a day and a half old.  I bet I set the bar pretty high on staying up late – the whole feeding every two hours routine meant I was up drinking off and on all night as 1961 turned quickly into 1962.  Maybe that’s why I’m still a night owl, and that hasn’t changed much through the years.  If left to my own devices I can be up and going past midnight and sleep pretty late, I probably should have been a musician, except for that whole lack of talent thing.

2023 has a different start than any year in my long to mid to recent past.  Normally I would be thinking about Confirmation classes, doing some intermittent looking for a Lenten study book, likely getting talked into a costume for an upcoming Extravaganza – you’re right, nothing in my repertoire will ever touch the year of Dolly.  The wig has disappeared, the cowboy hat and boots still make an appearance every now and again.  Not certain Forest Goyer and his spouse have been back to the event since that year as Dolly kinda took a liking to him.  Sorry/not sorry Forest – he handled it like a champ.  BTW, all those things are still being planned and put together and filled with energy and laughter and joy, they’re simply not under my umbrella of thought and planning.  What a mixed amount of feelings and emotions that brings.  I’m excited for each of those areas to have new energy, leadership, and voice; and as my Unc asked, what am I going to do with the energy that went into all of that plus preaching – he maintains it has to be directed somewhere, that it doesn’t simply disappear.

Learning the ins and outs of life with an RV – perhaps I will suddenly become mechanically gifted and the best backer-upper of all things hitched.  I want to learn to play the soprano saxophone.  I know we all made fun of Kenny G, but seriously, the instrument has a great sound.  Since I started in 4th grade playing reed instruments, I think I might have a decent shot of learning it.  I want to try pencil sketching.  Maybe painting, but I sorta like the subtlety of shading and shadowing that pencil drawing brings.  Plus I’ve always been a “doodler” during classes and other long-sitting events, so that may give me a start.  Anne Lamott says that anyone 60 and over should walk everyday, so I plan on scheduling that.  I still have the dream of a marathon before I meet Jesus, so a “reasonable” training schedule is in my future.  The reasonable part might be the first time I’ve tried it that way, but there’s a first for everything . . . trying to back off the “go big or go home” phrase since going big starting to train too intensely now might mean going home to Jesus, rather than simply going home stiff and sore. * snort.

Of course all those starting things are dependent on my starting and finishing in January dealing with the hoarding situation that is my office.  Someone asked if I’d packed a box yet.  And I do remember a few weeks back quite proudly packing a box that had a desk lamp, and old boom box/cassette player, and two books.  Yeah, we gotta ramp up that activity a bit.  The thought has crossed my mind that I could simply tip my desk with some boxes at hand to catch the stuff, and then seal them with packing tape for “later”; same with my bookcases, my credenza, my file cabinets . . . going to need more boxes I think.  It’s hard not to stop and read and remember every slip of paper, card, and conference packet I have started through.  I will have to overcome that tendency rather quickly.  Nostalgia is not the friend of sorting and packing 35+ years of life.

I was starting to plan on where to start earlier today and the 3rd book in the stack was one with Amanda Gorman’s poetry.  So then I remembered she had a youtube Ted talk video that I came across several weeks ago and didn’t have time to listen, but today seemed like a good day for that. I clicked and she is simply mesmerizing with her words.  And of course as I’m listening to her Tedtalk along the side of the screen are interviews she has done and other poetry she has spoken and suddenly it’s five til 7 and the empty box is still empty . . . but my spirits are lifted, so there’s that.

Where do we start when starting started 61 years ago in life, 35+ years ago in calling, 20 years ago in this place called Grace?  I guess where we always start, with the moment at hand.  For the first time in many long times I really have no template to follow for the coming months or year.  God may be heaving a sigh of relief that the Spirit finally gets the floor in new ways both for the church and for the person this time before the pastor.  How strange that seems to me, perhaps not to God.  In the midst of my imagining and packing and planning, I’m guessing God is hoping listening will be a large part of all of that . . . for direction, for the possibility of hitting the pause button before running willy-nilly into marathons or soprano saxes or even pencil sketching. To take some deep breaths and slow things down a bit and notice the world that surrounds and feeds the soul as well as the body.  We’ll see how that goes. 

On the second day of this New Year I find myself awash with thoughts of the past and the future and the present all mushing together in a place where listening to Amanda Gorman is the deep breath that allows a bit of escape.  The empty box will still be here tomorrow and I’ll be one day closer to knowing where to start, mostly.

(Link to video)