Deliver Us from Over-Functioning
O Sabbath rest by Galilee, O calm of hills above! – John Greenleaf Whittier (1872)
The church bells pierced the park’s dusk. John Greenleaf Whittier’s hymn, “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”—or better put, “Dear God and Maker of Us All”—rang out. A few nights a month, I pass through at 6 PM. Rarely do I join in spiritual karaoke.
“Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.”
I’d had four interesting conversations that day, all non-compliant with the poet’s theme.
One of my students said that he was following an “over-functioning white woman” in his current parish. He understood why she had worked so hard and missed the carillon for so many years. “She was overcompensating. As a pioneer, she had to prove herself.” He wanted work-life balance instead. He was in an “OK Boomer” mood. I understood.
A second call told me she was leaving after one year in her parish. “Fed up. Expectations ridiculous.” She wanted to know if all churches were like this. I baby-boomed, “Yes.”
Then my own music director said, “How much of this s— do I have to put up with?” I responded, “All of it.”
A fourth had told someone where to go. I asked if he wanted to apologize. He responded, “No. If she wants to talk, she can call me.”
I was grateful for the odd evening off and the park’s music. I also wondered why I had over-functioned for so long. When does the compensation stop, and the ordered life begin? Right now, answered the carillon. Right now.
May your church become less grumpy, Sabbath God of Galilee. Give us each a role in that play. Amen.