Ministry

What I Do All Day

Yesterday, filled with pastoral care needs and details about an upcoming sermon series and devising a bulletin for week one and an extremely lengthy meeting regarding an ordination paper, had a mid-afternoon roadside breakdown when I learned that our church newsletters, re-designed and beautiful, could not be mailed for the 39 cents affixed by a lovely church member. The newsletter was not overweight; this had been carefully checked as we made the decision to go from bulk mail to a combination of first class (bulk mail newsletters having been "lost" or terribly late for several months running), e-mail and allowing people to pick up their newsletters in church.

A call from Bob at the Old Mill Town P.O. informed us that the orientation of the address box changed the status of the mailing, and each newsletter would require an additional 13 cents.

Our office administrator has a young child and another job, so it was clear she would not be available to take care of the problem yesterday. Since today is the first of the month, and there is a commitment on our parts for the newsletter to be not only attractive but also timely, I went to the Post Office myself. And stood in line. For a good, long while.

Of course there is no such thing as a 13 cent stamp. And the over-inflated mailing list which we are gradually paring down by asking people to confirm they want to receive the newsletter is still at its high number, which means that although many, many newsletters were picked up in church on Sunday, there were 131 waiting to be mailed. (I had to get out of line and  count them, then get back in line and wait some more.)

Jim, Bob’s comrade, informed me that they probably didn’t have enough 10 and 3 cent stamps for my purposes.  He went into the vault to see what he could find. He returned with 131 5 cent stamps and 262 4 cent stamps. He assured me if they were stamped appropriately they "will go out tonight." (I wondered why that was even something he felt he needed to say, but then I remembered the "missing" bulk mail of the past.)

I have to say that the sight of them was a bit daunting. I needed to return to the office and pack up my things, check e-mail and phone messages and review the aforementioned ordination paper. How was I going to manage getting back to the Post Office, too?

Also, I was hungry.

I stood there and placed stamps until my fingers were numb. 393 stamps later, I did not wait in line again. I stepped between the other customers and said to Dierdre, co-worker of Bob and Jim, "I’m just going to pass these to you."

Between the P.O. and the church, I saw dramatic black clouds and began to  hear the rumble of thunder.

Marriage today consisted of a cell phone call with a sketchy connection, a request that I make a doctor’s appointment for him, that he call and order heating oil, a realization that some conversations must wait for his return.

On my drive home I saw lightning across a vista of fields and trees.

I got home just in time for the ordination paper meeting, which ran right through our dinner hour, my children eating without me. 

I try to keep a handle on things, measure and budget my time, and I’ve even learning to delegate, though you might not guess it from this story. We’ll re-arrange the address box for next month. We’ll live and learn. The details of my day seem like nothing compared to the life concerns and impending decisions of those I pastored before going to the Post Office. I may grow tired of conducting my marriage long-distance, but the end of this trip is in sight. I drove home in the rain, but at my house, the dogs barked and wrooed a happy welcome, and the sun was shining.

It’s shining this morning, too, and I am going to the dog park.

17 thoughts on “What I Do All Day”

  1. ahh… ((((songbird)))) lately i’ve been spending time on mondays planning my week, knowing full well that that is somewhat of a joke because you never know what will happen. a friend of mine who blogs at anglicamp just said something like that. anyhow… what an overwhelming day. may there be more grace, openness, breathing room in this day.

  2. i’m sorry the PO people weren’t very helpful–I wonder if they could have done something like print .13 cent postage things (the way they do if you take something in and say “I need to mail this” and they weigh it or whatever and print out .47 cent sticker and stick it on) so you could only have done 131. Or something like that.
    Of course, I wouldn’t have wondered that while standing at the post office…I would have done exactly what you did. But I would have been much more irritated than you sound. I’m impressed with your grace and peace under the stress of that kind of day.
    peace, friend…

  3. Oh dear. I’m sorry about all that USPS stuff. In Mill City on the Big River, where I was a church secretary and my younger daughter now has the same job, we had a wonderful bulk mail facility and many people would get their newsletter the next day. The workers were very helpful too. However, it was clear that using the regular post office for bulk mail was not workable even though in theory it could be done. And we were lucky that the bulk mail place was nearby. I don’t know the situation here in Vacationland. Just hope there are some philatelists in your congregation who will appreciate your labors!

  4. A new wrinkle in posting comments to prevent “automated robots” from posting comments! Cool! I wish the Press-Herald had the same thing, I’m getting tired of reading the comments from “automated robots” who make everything about taxes. (And, I was glad for the confirmation that *I* am *not* an automated robot!)

  5. Ugh. You are a saint if you waited in line more than once and didn’t lose your cool.
    One could never have guessed that ministry would be full of such odd little details. Its such an odd job, isn’t it?!

  6. This is the kind of thing that sent my former office admin over the edge. She finally refused to have anything to do with postage or mail, and stopped going to the post office to pick up the mail about six months before she quit.
    I love my new office admin. I’m just sayin…

  7. Completely irrelevant comment (and by the way, the postage thing sounds really frustrating and tedious!), but I’m wondering about the Good Fences book you have in your bedside table list. How are you finding it? Content looks really intreguing to me (though it drives me out of my mind that Frost was actually making the opposite point in his poem, and everyone misuses the line. Rant over.), and I’m looking for good support of wise church boundaries.

  8. Mrs. M, I have no idea. It’s on my pile, but I promised myself I wouldn’t start until I finished the Diana Butler Bass book. I’ll let you know when I finish it.

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