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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mr. Jonah's wild ride to Barrington

Cripes, what a day.

I just had a feeling that I needed a day off, and NOW, not later. So when I saw there was going to be a funeral yesterday morning after the 3-day weekend of 9 masses, I made a couple of calls to some nice friends and subbed it out so that I could spend the morning writing and running, then do all the domestic chores that make marriage bliss: paying bills, doing laundry, dishes. Problem solved. 

Sometimes there's the little voice that whispers "all is not well with your little plan, Einstein," but the voice was my college biology teacher who never really warmed to me, or to much of anything other than mating fruit flies. I woke in the wee hours with the passing thought I should double check the funeral sheet, but forgot about it as I settled back into the arms of Morpheus, or Charlize, or whomever. Besides, I already knew all was not well, since I had forgotten to create worship aid for Sunday, omitted an intercession, and had to call an audible for closing song Saturday evening. Then there was the matter of the Disappearing Homily this weekend.

Fr Mark Bartosic, pastor of St. Frances of Rome in Cicero, our sharing parish, was making his annual visit and preaching at the morning masses. Terry and I heard him at the 9, and thought he was wonderful. As he began to preach at the choir mass, he interrupted himself to say his homily wasn't where he left it, and knowing his style, I knew he would need to refer to his text. Jumping into the fray as he vamped, I ran to the sacristy and found it after a brief but frantic search....in the recycling bin. Now, this isn't so strange, except that the same thing happened at the evening mass. This time, though, the text was in confetti sized pieces in a garbage can. This was no accident. So see why it's better to memorize your homily? Fortunately, his laptop was in the car. But I digress.

I only added all of that to give you a glimpse of my state of mind, roughly that of a sleep-deprived Gitmo inmate, as I sat at my trusty iMac yesterday morning in my Jammie's, writing on my blog, drinking a third cup of Starbucks Fair Trade Italian Roast. At about 9:30, I decided to go for a run, then remembered, by some badly timed synaptic misfire, the concern I had about the funeral. Go out and ignore the instinct, or check it, and know things were really OK for the morning? It was 9:40. I checked the funeral info on my iPhone. 10 am start. I had told my subs it was at 11. I fired off strongly worded messages that would have had NSA black marker drawn through the expletives had they been leaked to the press; as I expected, my keyboard player found the time parameter impossible. The singer was on her way. There was nothing to do but throw on some clothes, glue my hair down with peanut butter, and make the 15 minute journey to St Anne. If they'd stall, I could be close.

Well, guess what? two of the roads between Lake Zurich and Barrington were closed yesterday morning with construction. There are more than two, but these were the closest routes. More stress. 

But as those of us know who do these things for a living, funerals rarely begin on time. This one was 25 minutes late. 

So the stress of the morning, as I tried so hard to avoid St. Anne's to which I was called in ministry and now upon whose shores I was cast unshaven, befogged, wearing running socks and topsiders, made me feel like Jonah, the patron saint of work avoidance and shirkage of duty. I did what had to be done, but not only didn't get a day off, I messed up the schedules of two colleagues as well. Yes, I'm going to pay them both as though they had done the job; one actually, heroically, did. I felt sorry for myself the rest of the day, sort of giving the rest of my life the finger as I did the no-longer-ignorable laundry and tried to take a nap. If you thought it didn't get any worse, I spent the day "talking to mortgage bankers," which is a literal translation of the Japanese phrase "hara-kiri." 

Is it really so bad to want to have a whole day off, especially after a Yule-or-Pascha-like mega-weekend of worship services? Is God, in fact, out to get me? I realize, of course, it was my own too-casual and disorganized approach to office work that was the day's undoing. But may I please blame the insanity of the preceding week for my inattention? Please? I need a scapegoat. Maybe the St. Louis Cardinals. Really? You can't beat a bunch of hillbilly moonshiner lookalikes in your own stadium, even when their lame-oid pitchers have to bat for the first time all season? Way to represent the NLC. Sigh. 

Moving from my office so rapidly to commando sweater-blazer-dockers and slip-on footwear, unable to stop to make myself presentable to my genteel cantor and funeral choir, I had a moment of panic hoping I didn't smell like last night's mahi mahi. One can carry even a divinely inspired metaphor a shore too far.