I am back at work. Not for good, but for a few weeks until my surgery date in early September. Yes, it was finally scheduled. (See my complain-y blog post Nine weeks and counting… for a refresher, if you dare!)
Being back feels wonderful and bizarre.
It feels wonderful because today I opened my study bible that I use for sermon prep for the first time in two months, and I felt like I had returned home. That surprised me a bit. Actually, it surprised me a lot. Intellectually, I was aware of the fact that I haven’t preached since May 31st. The proof of this is right there on my google calendar. But emotionally and spiritually, I hadn’t realized how much I missed the discipline of my weekly study for worship. I had forgotten how much this study and prayer time roots me each week.
How it draws me closer to God.
But it is more than just reading and thinking and praying. Much more. I know that even if I had been studying for the same amount of time during my four weeks away on medical leave, I still wouldn’t have felt completely grounded. No doubt the study would have been good for me, but I imagine that I would have still felt a bit disconnected. What really grounds me each week is the study and prayer time in preparation for worship with my beloved community of faith. I love studying the Bible and I find quite a bit of fulfillment in the act itself. But it is my journey with The Church of the Good Shepherd as the people of God in this place that makes my weekly practice so rich and meaningful.
Yes, it is wonderful to be back.
Yet, it feels bizarre.
I never imagined I would be a pastor with breast cancer. I never imagined that 2015 would be a year of comings and goings from the church while I undergo diagnosis and treatment. I didn’t have any grand plans for this church year. No big initiatives or programs. It was the opposite, really. I was looking forward to an typical, unexciting year with my church, a year of community and love and stability. I was looking forward to Ordinary Time. Intentional and intimate and steady ordinary time.
There is beauty in being ordinary.
But nothing about this year has been ordinary or stable. It has been a chaotic and unpredictable. For me and for the church. Cancer does that–it throws life into a tailspin and you just try to hold on until the ride is over. The moment the words “you have breast cancer” are uttered all dreams of ordinariness fly out the window.
So these five weeks of working will be lovely, but I am pretty sure these five weeks of waiting for surgery will not be. It is healing and hopeful to be with my church. I am thrilled that I have this respite in all things cancer. But I am not really back for good, because I still have cancer. Even in these few days of working, I have periodically forgotten that fact. Sometimes the reality check comes back gently with a whisper in the ear, other times it sneaks up and yells “Gotcha!”
It is wonderful and bizarre. Not at all ordinary.
The irony of all this is that my first sermon back will be on the book of Ecclesiastes. Yep, that one–there is a time for everything.
Hmm… Can’t help but wonder what truth the Teacher of Ecclesiastes has in store for me at this time and in this place.
There is a season for everything under the sun….a time for the wonderful and the bizarre….a time for the ordinary and the chaotic, perhaps?