17 April 2008

Thursday Coffeehouse Update

I'm not having a good afternoon.

Mind you, I'm not having a bad afternoon - but I'm beginning to feel like I've been surreptitiously cast in a Mr. Bean episode. I walked into Panera at 2:00 p.m. It's now 2:30 and thus far I've gotten bupkis done on the sermon this week. But I have:
- found my favorite table, right next to the fireplace (essential on a cold, rainy day like today).
- spilled a good portion of my first cup of coffee because said table was wobbly.
- fixed the aforementioned table with several trips to the counter for napkins.
- spilled coffee again because I didn't actually fix it as well as I'd thought.
- taken two more trips back for napkins and, finally, fixed the table.
- answered the comments from the guy at the next table who also hates wobbly tables.
- fired up the trusty laptop.
- dropped my Bible on the floor.
- hit my head on the wobbly table while bending down to pick up my Bible.
- discovered that my laptop battery is low and, unfortunately, I'll need to move because no outlets are open in the vicinity of my favorite not-so-wobbly table.
- walked around for several minutes looking for an open outlet.
- found an outlet, moved all my stuff, bent over to open up my laptop & hit my head on the low-hanging table sconce.
- knocked over the other chair at my table while piling my jacket & bag on it.
- finally gotten my computer set up, coffee refilled, Bible opened and ready to go.
- sat down & discovered my chair is wobbly. At which point I burst out laughing.

You could ask, "Why are you writing away from your office in the first place?" Well, I've discovered that when I'm at the office, it's really easy to be distracted by housekeeping details and never get any writing done on Thursdays. I spent the better part of the morning working in the sanctuary: cleaning out the old sound booth, setting up the pews (which are still out of order after being moved for renovations last summer and fall) and cleaning & reordering the sacristy so that we can start using it again. This is stuff that needs doing, mind you, and it's part of my unspoken job responsibilities to be the building caretaker, but I can't do it ALL the time. Unfortunately, there's a part of me that would rather spend my time finding new ways to organize the cleaning closet and replacing lightbulbs instead of doing the hard work of proclamation. There's a different kind of creativity that's needed to create order from the chaos that is this building, and it's a creativity that appeals to me, but the primary reason I was called to be a campus pastor was NOT to change lightbulbs and reorganize closets.

I made a promise to myself that when we moved here, I'd spend more time meeting people than I would "nesting." I did pretty well in that regard - it took me two months to get all my files into the filing cabinet, and I didn't get my posters and degrees hung on the wall until last night. I've spent the time I would have spent organizing my books, etc., getting to know folks in the community and learning about stuff here, and it's paying off already. After all, knowing which folder contains my Ancient Hebrew History notes from UN-L is far less important than knowing that Susie's grandpa is sick or Pastor Inquist has been a strong supporter of campus ministry in the past.

We had a great ecumenical prayer service last night. Some of the students at the St. Thomas Aquinas Center were doing a cardboard city sleepout to raise awareness for homelessness and poverty relief, and I sort of invited ourselves to worship with them instead of holding our usual service at the Lutheran Center. About eleven of our students and the same number of RC folks stood in the Campanile and joined together for song, prayer and just a little bit of preaching from yours truly. We talked about doing a joint sleepout next year and getting more Lutheran Center folks active in the ONE Campaign at Iowa State, which would be really cool since I'm a ONE campaign member myself. Good times with our brothers and sisters from the RC church, especially with Papa Ratzi having come to America yesterday.

So, that's the news from the coffeehouse, and since I've managed to avoid hitting, dropping or bumping into anything for a while, I think I'm safe to get back to work now.



  1. The beginning reminds me very much of one of the best books ever from my childhood - Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day...which happens to be sitting here on my desk at the office for some reason.

    Sounds like things are settling in nicely for you in Iowa!

  2. A former nickname of yours came to mind as I read the beginning of your post. I laughed out loud a couple times as well.

    Dana - I love that book!

  3. I apologize for laughing out load while reading the beginning of your post. And I thank you for sharing it. Laughing was what I needed tonight! Thanks! And good luck with the sermon!

  4. your thursday is my friday, only replace all the wobbly objects with barfing dog... while trying to write sermon. *sigh* i think perhaps the pooch is sleeping... maybe writing can commence.

  5. As perpetually clumsy person, I totally felt like this could be lots of days for me. Enjoyed the rest about your ministry as well