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.