I Wonder

Lughnasa Full Harvest Moon

“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.” – Greek Proverb

I’m nervous. Not sweat on the palms, head for the door or the tunnel kind of nervous, but nervous anyhow. It has two sources I can identify. One, will I dress well enough to preach in Wayzata? After a life time of playing down the importance of dressing up, I still know when it can hurt. I know this seems hopeless given that I’m 62, not 16, but there it is. These folks (folks I imagine attending a Unitarian-Universalist church in a wealthy burb like Wayzata.) dress better than I do. I imagine. And, they probably do. I only want to come up to minimum standards and I’ll probably make it. What if I don’t?

I’ve shaved and cut my hair, trimmed my nails. I’m not about to buy new clothes because I believe Thoreau was right, “Beware of ventures that require new clothes.” but here’s the problem. I don’t wear sport coats or suits at all any more. This is so true that when I went in the closet to fetch a jacket I might wear I found most of the shoulders covered in dust. I’m not kidding. It’s been that long. Also, I’m no longer the svelte guy I was when I bought all the dress pants I own. Fortunately, I can still fit into a few pair.

The second source of anxiety is also about vanity. I’ve preached around the state in several congregations, but I only get asked back in a couple of places. There’s no need for me to preach at all, financially, but I do have an intellectual stake in being heard and appreciated for the work and original thought. That intellectual stake comes freighted with an emotional stake, too. It’s not like I’ll roll over and quit writing if I don’t get good feed back. I generally do good feedback.

Part of me says it’s the changeable nature of program committees and the changing tastes of even those who remain constant from year to year and I’m sure that explains some of it. Part of it, too, I’m sure, is the non-pastoral nature of my preaching. That is, I don’t write to inspire or to give practical advice; I write to make people think, to get them to act, to consider new ways of seeing old problems or to see possibilities and problems where they never saw them before. I can make people nervous. On purpose. Because I’ve understood that to be my particular calling from day 1 in seminary.

In spite of all those it might just be that people don’t like what I say, the way I say it, or me in particular. Oh, well, if it is this, then what can I do? I’m gonna be who I am anyhow. Still, I’d like to know. I think.