Rev. Peter E. Bauer
I was at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac ) waiting for a flight back to San Antonio, TX. I was in uniform for the last time. As I munched on a bagel and sipped some coffee, I noticed a mother and her eight-year-old boy. The mother was reading The Vancouver Sun. A front-page article talked about underwater sonar equipment that was helping whales advert beaching themselves. The boy was wearing a T-Shirt with “The Who ‘emblazoned on the front. I commented to him that I liked his shirt. While sitting, there I began to wonder “what would it be like to live in a country that was not engaged in war – either fighting one or preparing to fight one?
Would the economy of the country be better? Would people be happier and feel better about their lives?
I reflected upon my military career and what I had achieved. I knew that it was ending; and I felt okay about retiring, knowing that my energy and interests could now be focused in other directions “i.e. a full-time job, teaching career, family, and continued ministry service”.
Transitional life events – birth, marriage, divorce, graduation, moving to a new location-, etc. remind us that there are occasions where we leave some things behind, but we don’t lose entirely what has given us meaning and sustenance in life.
Recently, someone I know got a promotion and moved to the Southwest where they are now engaged in running a nutrition education and service program for Native Americans. This person has observed that this will be a nice way to finish their civil service career, and feel they are contributing to helping people live better lives.
This phenomenon can also affect our spiritual lives. A friend of mine has observed:
“There are some Sundays that I leave church feeling that I left with less religion than when I came. ‘
Oddly enough, this sentiment can become more common than one might believe. A parishioner may come to church with certain needs and hope that the minister might address some concern that is important to them. The minister doesn’t address the concern, may instead speak a lot about him/her self, especially in the first person, and in the process the parishioner may feel ignored if not marginalized.
There are people that I know who find themselves “leaving with less “regarding their church experience. One person that I know goes to their church faithfully every Sunday, but what they hear regarding preaching is not very edifying. So, their remedy is that they attend another early evening” vesper “service at another church from another denomination in order to feel like they are getting something. I have discovered over the years that this phenomenon is becoming more common.
How do you live knowing that you have not lost everything? Transitional changes in our lives are instructive because they allow us to reflect upon what we have experienced and learned, while looking ahead in terms of how we can use this material in our future.
The day that I was at Sea-Tac reflecting upon the coming end of my military career, I met an airport employee. This person was struggling with Depression, was taking prescribed anti-depressant medication, but felt something more was needed. I spent a few minutes helping this person strategize what was needed in terms of psychotherapy, and referred some local agencies where they might find assistance might be found.
Imagine, helping someone with a problem or condition, all over an Asiago Cheese bagel and coffee.
Even though there are times when we may feel we are leaving with less, there are opportunities for us to experience something more.
May we all have days where there is something more.
May it be so.