Monday, March 16, 2009


We didn’t go to church yesterday. It was a gloomy wet day.
I used to tell this joke. A despondent son says to his mother, “I don’t feel like going.” His mother answers with, “No, son you must go to church today.” He counters, “But I don’t want to go to church.” Just as insistently she says, “But you have to go, you’re the pastor.”

How many Sundays are there in thirty-four years of pastoring and six years of national leadership in a denomination? With few exceptions I was at church on Sunday. We didn’t go yesterday. We would read our Bibles and pray on our own was the plan. Christine followed through as usual. I began reading and writing e-letters, writing blogs and other bits. The two of us began a conversation that became the predictable difference of opinion and grew from there. Two first-borns and whatever ingredients go into wiring and rearing numero unos, that’s us. Christine and I are the poster people for Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. And as we made up for the unnecessary escalated disagreement, which was my fault, because that too is invariably the case, not because I have big shoulders, but sloping ones so the liability rolls right off for me to recommit next time.

Back on the right side of each other we took a drive in the MX5 sports car to sit on a windy day and watch the white caps at low tide. The sun peaked out occasionally so we drove 8th Avenue to 216th Street and stopped at Domaine de Chaberton to inquire about their quaint Bacchus Bistro with its marvelous food. But we are seniors and ultimately we drove home, picking up a pizza to reheat and we watched About Schmidt during the evening. We had no idea what we were about to see. That stars Jack Nicholson who has just retired at age 66. He and his wife adjust to living together 24/7 and they have big plans to see America in their brand new Winnebago bus size Adventurer. We learned how both of them had grown to despise each other’s myriad personal habits when the youthfulness of their love was gone yet they were mutually committed to the marriage. Christine and I looked at each other and smiled knowingly. One day he returned from an errand to find her dead on the floor from a blood clot to the brain. He was alone. Soon a daughter got married in a far away state to a man he couldn’t stand and the rest of the movie is a marvelous character study of numerous people in this unblended family whom the scriptwriters understood perfectly with all the reactions, tired clichés and behaviours of ordinary people in ordinary life situations. Nicholson’s character finds an iota of joy in a note from an African Foster child whom he supports with $25 monthly cheques. And that was that. The credits scrolled. An overcast ending to the day I missed church. Oh, we kissed one another goodnight.

"So did you learn a lesson from the day?" "I don't want to learn a lesson! This is my memoir."

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