Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Short Straw

One of my favorite images comes from Hearts on Fire: Praying with the Jesuits (2005: 77) Here are the lines that stick with me from "Incarnation" when the Holy Ones were discussing how they could help humanity that was going in circles:

And so we did
what families do
when confronted
with calamity.
We drew straws.
Shorty lost.
He came to share
your plight,
your fight,
your might,
and point you
toward tomorrow.

If I could attach an image, it would be a short straw; short straws have pervaded some of my time these past weeks. Here's how.

Two weeks ago our community ministerium was responsible for Baccalaureate at the local high school. It was my first time to participate and one thing the three of us with "short straws" agreed upon was that we wanted something unusual involving active participation by the graduates while offering them something to remember. I groused a couple of times, wishing I did not have to work on Sunday afternoon especially since I did not know even one student/parent/family present. Of course, you know what happened - the event turned out to be fun because the students and audience were willing to try something different. They even sang that childhood song, Old McDonald. We ended up having a good time. That short straw became a blessing!

The following week was graduation of the same high school class - 10AM on Saturday morning. I had a 9AM meeting and a second at noon both on my calendar for at least a month, so when not one member of the ministerium could attend at 10AM except me, I felt stressed. It would mean spending a hour or two writing prayers for Invocation and Benediction. How tough is that? and what ever did I think ministry was all about, anyway? As I wrote the prayers, paying particular attention to the inclusiveness, I sought words that would be meaningful to the graduates. Another short straw. Another positive experience.

This week, I have been asked to do the Invocation for a dinner hosting Mansfield's "Woman of the Year." She is an inspiring woman, one I hope to emulate as I age. Another short straw. Funny how the idea of "short straw" has changed over two weeks. From drudgery to honor. Or, is it me? Have I changed, grown more into the minister-in-residence rather than the church planter always working with an agenda? Perhaps this growth will help me remember that doing for others is the Jesus-like activity I preach Sunday mornings.


  1. This is a trial since people have told me they tried to comment, but were unable to.

  2. Guess I am "able" as I found this spot quite by accident.
    I just finished reading a novel about Jesus. In it, he was quite ordinary, not unusual in looks, activity or occupation. He was not very good at carpentry nor sheep herding and questioned his own self as to who and what he was and why he was finding the things which happened to him to be puzzling. He was a searcher and had to experience life to get to where he began to know that something was different. Although I didnt really like the ending which was traditional and yet not, I did like the idea that he was a traveler on the road of life....just like the rest of us. I don't think it makes much difference to God which road we take as long as we do our best, respect others, cause no pain and persist in a spirit of love. Why is something that sounds so simple, so hard?