I should be having lots of profound thoughts – and maybe those will come next week. This morning I saw a deer outside my window, as we find ourselves in a cabin with some friends up in Ashe County. You can hear… the river flowing, the breeze in the trees, and really nothing else but a stunning, wonderful silence. I’m tempted to ratchet up my reflective self and think of something shrewd to say about this – but then I decided just to watch the deer, and listen to… nothing, which I never, ever get to do in my normal life, and I’d imagine you don’t either.
Someone sent me a note today saying “I bet your sermons will be quite profound once you return." I'm not a profound guy, and am not sure I can go much deeper than previously. We did have something happen the other day that reminded me of how I feel about preaching, at least sometimes. We were in a hotel, and a loud alarm began blaring, the type at which you exit the building because there’s a fire or some real trouble. We opened the door, and the staff was in the hall laughing, saying “Oh, ignore that.”
I recall being in college, and sophomoric and drunk guys would pull the fire alarm, setting it off at all hours of the night. Generally when the alarm sounded, we just stayed in bed. One night the alarm kept on, far longer than usual. My roommate said, “Oh, look out the window and see if anybody else has gone outside.” I looked out, and there was a crowd of guys 6 floors down, and a fire truck, spraying water our way. We opened the door, the hall was thick with smoke, so we made a dash for the stairwell, and exited coughing and wheezing.
Sermons are like fire alarms, or at least we intend them to be. “The seemingly safe place you have constructed for yourself is not so solid, not so safe, and you need to run to a new life!” Or, “Stop ignoring all the signs and take God seriously!” But like the people in our hotel, and like my college roommate and myself, we hear the sermon and just say “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll stay in bed, I’ll cling to my old life.”
I’m trying for this time to shed my old life and maybe just be. It’s a Saturday, and I’m not anxious about tomorrow’s sermon, although I’ll miss the preaching – maybe. It’s a Saturday, and Lisa and I can be out of town with friends; this has been a rarity in our married life, and I kind of like what most people get to enjoy when they happen to feel like it. It’s quiet. I don’t know if that’s good for me or not, but I think I like it, and will miss the quiet when I’m back to the work and noisy life I do miss.
Mostly I want to avoid fretting about how I’m doing on sabbatical… I’m just trying not to watch the clock, and not feel the pressure to produce, even profound thoughts about being on sabbatical.