It has certainly been a week filled with ups and downs. I traveled home last Friday morning to Tennessee for my ordination weekend. The scene at Philadelphia International Airport was one of complete chaos! It seemed that everyone came to the airport to attempt to get on earlier flights and avoid the impending snow storm. It got so bad at our gate that the gate agents had to announce there were simply no more seats on my flight & they would attempt to get them on the next one at 2pm. I was one of the lucky 160 people who were able to get on the flight to Atlanta. By the time we arrived in Atlanta, the 2pm flight had been cancelled due to weather. I felt incredibly blessed, but also felt for those who were unable to get out of Philadelphia. I made it home to East TN around dinner time & spent time with my family.
Last Sunday afternoon, I became the Reverend. It was a truly beautiful service, filled with people who represented so many different parts of my life. I'm so very thankful for all those who were able to assist in worship & those who came to witness. It felt like a blur, but I will never forget the words "you are now a Minister of Word & Sacrament in the PCUSA". It was the most incredible feeling. After the service, there was a beautiful reception. I didn't even get a chance to sit down, as I greeted & spoke with all of my home church family.
I returned home to PA on Monday, in between the two massive snow storms, to a scene of winter wonderland. There was about 2 feet of snow on the ground! And, more was on its way. But, I also returned to news of a death in the community & a request to officiate a funeral on Saturday. This was a well known man in this area & had grown up in my church. He had not been active for a number of years, but his widow requested the funeral be at my church. I met with her before the snow struck again & began to prepare the service. Then, I was snowed into my house for the next 36 hours.
It was certainly a strange feeling being snowed into the house all alone. I did get a lot of work done, but I really missed being with people & the freedom to come and go. On Thursday, I emerged from the house to begin the long process of shoveling. We got another 18-20 inches on top of the 2 feet from the weekend. I knew I couldn't do it all by myself & thankfully, a man with a plow came by & plowed me out! I was so grateful. In the process, I met my neighbors across the street & ended up having dinner at their house that night. What delightful people! We enjoyed lots of laughs & great conversation, not to mention wonderful food. This is what my friend Whitney would call a glimpse of grace & it certainly was!
Saturday brought my first funeral. I've assisted with three funeral previously, but this was my first to handle on my own. I did not know the person nor did I know the family, so I made due with the information I could gather. The family appreciated the service, which is all that really matters in the end. But, the whole experience left me rather exhausted. Literally, I came home & crashed. Yesterday was another first - communion. That went well too. These are the things that keep me awake at night - worrying about whether or not things will be okay.
The life of a pastor is unreal. There are moments of great stress, great joy, and total exhaustion. My hope is to find some sense of balance in the middle of it all. We shall see what this week will bring.