It is time to move on. In another month I’ll finish up at the church in Bobcaygeon. I need to pack up ten years of accumulated files and books and assorted objects d’ministry.
This weekend I’m moving out of my rooms in Peterborough and back into the woods at 3 brothers falls. My accommodations there are a 25 foot Camper equipped with propane fridge, stove, and furnace. It’s got a dozen little storage cupboards, two little beds and a small table for dining. This year’s advancement will include running water! I’ll purchase a gas-powered water pump and a storage tank to I can have a flow of river water to wash my dishes and body in. Today I’m buying some new tarps to keep the rain off my outdoor kitchen/dining tent.
Packing is proving to be a challenge.
Winter clothes can go into storage bins and stashed outdoors.
What do I do with my art? Hanging it on trees doesn’t seem too good a solution.
What do I do with my stereo and album collection?
What about my tools and drum kit still in the basement in Fenelon?
It feels like University days again – when I would move at least twice a year. Back then I had all of my possessions down to what could fit into a pick-up.
In some ways it is very freeing. I don’t have much that I didn’t purchase second hand and so I have few long term attachments to what I’ll be leaving behind. I don’t need much in the way of comforts. A desk, a bed, pots and pans, a laptop, tools, table and chairs. That should do it.
This Sunday I’ll preach on my favourite Jesus ghost story. You know the one at the end of John where he shows up on the beach where Peter and the boys have gone fishing. The guys have been fishing all night – hauling up empty net after empty net.
Jesus knows where the fish are – he’s already got some cooking on a breakfast fire. He yells out to the guys to try “the other side”. Sure enough, they pull in the big catch and that’s when they clue in that the guy on the beach is Mr. Abundance himself.
Lent has been all about pulling up empty nets for me. Every time I ask “what’s my next step LORD?” all I get is an empty net.
People ask whether I’ll go back to the community ministry work I did in Toronto.
People ask whether I’ll take on another congregation.
Some people seem even more anxious than I am – to know what’s next.
This morning I spoke with my buddy Wayne Rumsby. He tells me about getting a call out of the blue to come to Alberta and do a social ministry – putting hard to employ people to work out in the foothills.
He asks me whether I’m going to build a dwelling out in the woods? I tell him I’m trying to decide whether I can afford another tent.
I wonder whether there’s a call “out of the blue” in my future. He tells me to keep writing. He says “I know your writing probably freaks some people out – but I love it.” He describes it as nudity. Says sometimes he wants to say “Al – put some clothes on.” but he’s curious about what I might expose next. So instead he tells me to keep writing.
In some ways I feel like I’m that fish cooking over the fire on the beach. I feel like I’ve been cooked and eaten up by Jesus’ followers. As I get ready to depart I suppose they’re digesting just what kind of a meal it was. Some spat me out. Some I gave a case of heart burn. Some I filled up and satisfied. Some I made hungry for more.
I know that on “the other side” of the place I am – abundance is waiting.
Once again I’ll have the hard work of hauling up more fish than I can handle.
Jesus tells Peter he’s gonna be taken places he doesn’t want to go. Peter looks over his should and asks “what about him?” wondering whether he alone gets the special blessing of being dragged away or whether John’ll get the honours too?
So, my word for you who might worry about me is what Jesus tells Peter. “Don’t you worry about him.”