Reading about English scientist Peter Higgs this morning, attracted by The Guardian article, “Matter will be created from light within a year, claim scientists,” then caught by a link to an earlier one, “I have this kind of underlying incompetence,” which Higgs said in an interview last December.
Under my pointy dunce cap, perched on my stool facing the corner as Doubting Thomas, Jr., I have this sense that matter has already been, was indeed, created from light (Genesis 1:3f) without a collider and that, sure enough, “greater works than these you will do” (John 14:12), not to mention heart surgery and weather satellites. But what grabbed me was “I have this kind of underlying incompetence,” which with no false modesty is who I see shaving mornings. Best shave in the shower, by feel, not facing that reverse creature staring back at me, knowing me almost as well as I know myself. Plus, in the shower, you can sing. Mario Lanza recidivus.
A mild digression from this morning’s starting point, waking up reflecting about “support.” Clergy always “being there” and “being on call” to help, and encourage, and comfort those in need. A never ending vocation if only because in a gathering, which is what a congregation is -- where two or three are gathered together there is always someone in need. Neither does it end when we add “comma Retired” after "Rev’d" unlike the Navy where 34 years ago it became “CDR, USN (Retired)” and I walked away never to be called again.
Where is this little trek through the woods going? Into the underbrush, actually, where clergy are support, and do support, and offer support, but/and we too are “sheep of thine own fold, lambs of thine own flock, sinners of thine own redeeming,” but so without the shepherd that we ourselves are expected, called, trained, educated, disciplined to be. What if the shepherd needs a shepherd? The bishop? AYFSM? Expose too much of yourself, you are dead. Find a friend online. Contemplating a vocation to the priesthood? If I were choosing a text for this nonsense, Mark 6:34, Numbers 27:17, 1 Kings 22:17, 2 Chronicles 18:16, Isaiah 13:14, Zechariah 10:2, Matthew 9:36, even Ezekiel 34:5.
Comes to mind Brer Fox cackling as he flings Brer Rabbit into the brambles. Brer Rabbit lands on his feet taunting
Everybody’s got a laughing place
a laughing place to go ho ho
take a frown, turn it upside down
and you’ll find yours I know ho ho
We are part of a small group of priests gone from active duty as pastor to congregations of real humans, to a new title, “chaplain to retired clergy.” Always a shepherd, never a bride.
Peter Higgs’ laughing place seems to have been only himself, lonely and quite frankly, more than a bit jaded, to read about him. He’s never browsed the internet or sent an email, or read an email. His son gave him a cell phone, but he’s never made a call on it and resents the presumption that the cell phone makes him always instantly available. Yep, Thursday after lunch I was three minutes into my deep nap when ding ding ding ding ding ding ding “Hello?”
“Please listen carefully, as our options have changed. You may have won a hundred dollar gift card to WalMart.”
Not quite as offensive as “Congratulations! You have won a cruise to the Bahamas ...”