Taking The High and Low Roads

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Our itineraries for Scotland are shaping up nicely, it seems. Emails are flying back and forth and Julie is constantly updating me with details, which I immediately forget. It’s four months away and I’m having a little trouble with the future right now, which I actually think is a healthy thing for the time being. Stay in the moment and all that. Glasgow will be there.

For those of you who don’t know the story, my wife is taking her (required) sabbatical from church in July and August. This is also a healthy thing, these sabbaticals. You may think church is dumb and anachronistic, but I still think you’d be impressed at the amount of work that goes into shepherding these flocks. A lot of research and study, a lot of prep time, and that’s not counting the pastoral component, particularly with an aging population; people need visits.

My wife is only (at least theoretically) part-time and it’s hard to separate out her various jobs in terms of wear and tear, but I certainly have seen the hours involved. The emotional and intellectual toll alone calls for a break once in a while, and then, of course, we change and our thinking changes, including our spiritual side, and a time for reflection is always welcome.

And given the pay, a couple of months off once every 7-8 years seems the least they can do.

Anyway, she had a limited amount of funds for this sabbatical (although someone always starts a donation drive and I imagine they collect quite a bit, these being generous folks) and made her plans accordingly. There were a couple of conferences, maybe. She dreamed a little of visiting Iona, the little island off the west coast of Scotland, as she has for years, although that would be cutting it a little close in terms of financials. It would be the only trip she could take, that’s for sure.

And while she was mulling this over, and I was paying no attention whatsoever, someone at church heard about this and decided to anonymously pay not only for her trip to Iona, but for a whole trip to Scotland, a couple of weeks (Scotland has a strong pull on Presbyterians).

And not only for her. This person wanted to pay for me to go, too.

Call it a Lent miracle, that’s fine (although the process may have started before then, and I’m not sure Lent miracles are real things anyway). It was a remarkable act of kindness and affirmation, and whoever this wonderful person is (of course I know, it’s a small church and we’ve already been talking because details, etc.) they knew this was a thing. A thing for Julie Kae. As, hopefully, I am a thing for Julie Kae.

There are many wonderful things to think about, including our eastern drive so I can see the village where they filmed part of Local Hero, a favorite, and that we’ve been spending money on hospitals for years, not so much the travel agencies, so taking a trip like this was really not in the cards. But mostly because our friends are coming with us.

One of our Scottish friends, her daughter, another friend, and who knows who else are coming along for this epic journey. I think they worry we’d just get lost on our own, and probably so, but friends just add to the joy. There might be a little epicness, more I think of it.

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A couple of very minor things happened that still had me thinking about the way I deal with people, not only online but often.

One is something I don’t think I’ve managed to write about yet, something I observed at, once again, church. It deserves more attention because I think there’s some truth in it about how people react to perceived authority. It makes me nervous and I want to think about it some more.

But I got my nose out of joint and I had to backtrack and make some more apologies for snippiness. I could do this all day, I guess. I hope apologizing immediately is a trick I’ve learned this Lent. It sure is easier than waiting.

Although I was right to be miffed. See? Not always about me.

The other was a message from a former classmate. I’ve been updating profile pictures, trying to erase all remnants of those painful old glasses (I liked the style fine; just way too heavy for my apparently tender ears). In one of them, I could see how someone would think I was a little on the gaunt side. There was a lighting issue that accentuated it, but it’s also just true. I wouldn’t mind filling out a little but I feel OK and it’s hard, these days. I’m sometimes grabbing food when I can and it’s not the best food.

Anyway, this friend left me a comment about this, kind of humorous but you never know. My knee tends to jerk when people talk about my weight, as if it’s a vanity project I’ve been working on far past its expiration date. I get cranky.

But this person certainly didn’t know the story, so after a bit of prodding to see whether she was just giving me a hard time or really concerned, we had a nice conversation. It was comforting to me, coming as it did intermittently throughout the day (a couple of email exchanges). I haven’t seen this person in 40 years and I remember little of that, but I remember enough. I think I’ll chalk this up to a Lenten thing. Maybe I’ll make a list of good stuff. Good, bad; the stuff I’ve learned, I mean.

For one thing, I’ve gotten good at renting cars. That’s my job today, and we’re off.

Chuck Sigars2 Comments