Notes From the Pastor ~ May 10, 2020

Notes From the Pastor ~

About three lifetimes ago, I was captivated by the great notion that I might make a good living by falling timber. The idea of working outside in the fresh air and being my own boss had a certain appeal to someone who has never liked the idea of punching a time card. So I purchased a used chain saw and whatever gear I could get my hands on and ventured forth. I had just enough experience, as they say, to be dangerous but I was young and invincible and undaunted. Things were a little rough at first and I learned early on that I had a lot to learn. Because the salary was based entirely on production, there was a huge incentive to get a lot done in a day. Every mistake and every misstep was a source of frustration. They were not only reminders of my lack of experience, but they also cost me in the form of cold, hard cash.

Luckily for me, the contractor paired me up with two old timers: Don & Abbey. These two guys had been at it for eons and the thinking was that I might pick up a few pointers from their vast experience. I didn’t see it that way, however. Every day I would watch them plodding along, cigarettes hanging out of their mouths, and moving at what seemed to me a snail’s pace. I found myself feeling bad for them a little. This is hard work; what a shame that they should have to work this hard – especially at their age. But at the end of every day, when we compared notes, these two old duffers had out -produced me by an embarrassing margin. Every. Single. Day; and it was driving me to contusions. This, of course, inspired me to go even faster …. and therefore, make twice the mistakes. Finally, I could stand it no more. One day as we were fixing to head to town, I just blurted out, “I don’t get it. What am I doing wrong? What’s your secret?” It was Don who spoke with a wry grin the words that I’ve learned to live by: “You’re working too hard,” he said. “You gotta slow down. You only got so many moves in a day – the secret is to make them count.”

I never forgot that advice. Years later when I was in charge of crews myself, I became aware of the acronym “IOF” – otherwise known as Idiot On Fire. This rather unkind term was used to describe the new hires that showed up looking to set the world on fire. They smashed and they crashed and were simply a blur of activity. But inevitably, at the end of the day, they usually hadn’t accomplished much besides making a mess. The sad part was that too many times, these go-getters wound up getting hurt. On the other hand, there were some that figured it out. They figured out that it’s best to slow down; it’s best to heed the advice of folks who have the skills and the training and the knowledge; it’s best to make every move count.

“May you live in interesting times.” This ancient blessing/curse has been rattling around in my head a lot lately. We do, after all, live in interesting times. As the entire globe finds itself crippled by a pandemic that few have ever experienced in their lifetimes, there is a prevailing sense of urgency. Rumors of food shortages bring about massive stockpiling; rumors of new treatments are latched upon as a cure-all, only to be shot down as snake oil; and understanding of how to proceed through this terrible time seems to be determined by whatever voices seem to be yelling in our ears at the moment. My point is that maybe it’s time to slow down. Maybe it’s time to listen first to those who have spent their careers studying the nature of viral infections. This isolation stinks. This disruption of our economy stinks even worse. What may be worse still is to charge into this dilemma unskilled and unarmed. What we do from here on out matters; it matters tremendously. Let’s make every move count.                                                                                                                                      Pastor Ken

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