I’m writing this on Ash Wednesday. This is important to know.
It’s the pause in my day between my services and I’m taking a chance to eat something and work on my vestry agenda for tomorrow. Season 2 of The West Wing is playing in the background because I love Aaron Sorkin and I know it well enough that I can work and listen. And in the middle of all of this I’m still bothered by my sermon.
It’s a good sermon. I make good points. Gospel points. I believe everything I say. Still, it’s under my skin. And then a character on the show, a one-off character so I don’t know his name, says, “My entire life doesn’t have to be about this one thing.” And I think but “sometimes it is.”
Sometimes my entire life is about being a priest. (Try dating me, being my friend for very long and you’ll learn this lesson.) Sometimes my entire life is about having had brain surgery and my health issues. Listen to my sermon. (Except, of course, you can’t. I’m sorry.) Hear me talk about mortality and death. I learned those lessons the hard way. The way of pain and suffering and blood work and tests. Of having looked into the certain knowledge that death was close. Sometimes my life is informed by one aspect of my life so completely it is as if my entire life is about that one thing.
All of that often makes me a better person and a better priest. But this week, this week between MRI #17 and the doctor’s appointment, this week when my mortality is a little closer to me, I wonder if my knowledge of my mortality has bleed too close to my priesthood. Because if my schedule were different, my sermon would be different. It’s a good sermon. I just wonder. I wonder what other words I would have found, would have said. What other part of the Gospel I would have proclaimed.
“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”