Friday, March 21, 2008


Young woman I know. Delightful. Reminds me a bit of my daughter. Perhaps I remind her a bit of her dad. I don’t know. Never asked. Never met the gentleman.

She calls me 007 because I carry a Zero Halliburton case. Looks like it might have secret weapons or money or maybe a sports car in it. The fast life in it. Aluminum. A bit of a sheen to it. And so I call her M. Which relates to her name and so has some basis in fact. And relates us to one another in an upside down lovely fictional and felicitous manner. And so we call one another these names.

Then the other day I learn she has moved. She and her husband. Moved. Oh, I don’t know. Maybe 60 miles. Something like that. Because you see her husband has become pastor of a church. A little church. Where because of all the rain the septic system doesn’t work.

A little out in the country and in a bit of a low-lying place. And what with all the snow and the ice and the rain this winter. Now it’s not only a run-down dinky little church, but it has toilets that don’t flush and water everywhere around it and in some places in it.

And she says she had such a hard time the other day, what with the moving and the flooding and the new people and the new role and so forth that she asked God for his help because she knew she couldn’t do it on her own.

And so I asked her, What in the heck does your husband think he’s doing? I mean. For that matter. What in the heck do you think you are doing? First of all, you need to put on maybe 150 pounds. Then you need to trade out that wardrobe completely. Where are the grays and the blacks, for example? And the clunky shoes? And the doilies around the neck? And the funny hats? And the button earrings?

But seriously, I say. Why do you want to do that? I mean. This is just asking for it. It’s just asking for trouble. For people like me to torment you and your husband. Why would you want that? Why would you want me, a pastor’s worst nightmare? People like me. To come after you and your husband every Sunday? On email during the week? And so forth.

I don’t know. I’m shocked. I like this young woman. I care for her. She has become an actual human to me. As I say, a bit like my daughter. And here she is pulling a bonehead move like this. Doing something self-destructive like this.

I feel like I want to talk her out of it. Which is of course ludicrous. Which is of course silly in the extreme. But no-no-no-no-no-no! Don’t do that! Don’t hurt yourself that way! It makes me slightly weak in the knees to hear this. It’s a little as if I had heard my son or my daughter had taken on pastoral responsibilities.

No, M, I say. No. Here. I didn’t know you were moving. I’ll help you move back. Tell your husband how sorry I am for him and for you. Tell him I’ll be happy to help you two move back home.

Look here, 007, she says. You work in hospice don’t you?

Yes, I say. Sort of.

Well, same thing. Same type of thing. Some people are just cut out for it is all. We’ve received the call. We’ve made our decision. Besides, I knew what I was getting myself into. My father’s a pastor and his father was a pastor. I’ve been there. Done that, 007. I’ve been around that barn before.

But M! Oh, do you understand that people like me will be coming at you and your husband. People who will make you want to weep! Make you feel ignorant! Make you want to hit them right square on the nose, hammer them on the knee-caps.

People who don’t know when to stop! People who have no sense of proportion! People who have no idea of the damage they do?

Look, 007. I can take care of myself, she says. I’m capable of telling people when they’re out of line. Believe me, 007, she says, dropping her smile. Letting me see that she has a serious soul in there. A determined diamond like soul in there beneath the Midwest farm-girl exterior.

A pastor’s worst nightmare, I say. Do you know what that is?

What is that, 007?

It’s someone who cares for you and cares for God. Cares for you both deeply. And who still won’t cut you any slack. Still comes at you like a pit bull. A pit bull trained to do this. To do this until this is done.

Thank you for your concern, 007. But we’ve made our decision. We will make the best of it. Now I have work to do. If you don’t mind, she says.

You know. Like M will do. When she’s done chatting with 007 and has decided she has more important things to do with her time.

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