Ministry, The Inner Landscape, Writing

She sat down next to me

My office at Starbucks.
My office at Starbucks.

She sat down next to me at the Starbucks soon after the mother and son left, a woman in her late 50s, with carefully coiffed and well-dyed short hair, proper makeup and lipstick. Almost immediately she asked about my tablet and keyboard set-up, explaining that she is looking for something and needs a portable workstation for writing. We discussed iPads, and I demonstrated my Origami workstation and showed off my favorite composition app, Write2.

When I asked her subject, she told me her story. She is a minister’s wife, and after 35 years in the parish, her husband is now director of a ministry school associated with a well-known (in her world) evangelist. Travel has opened their world, and she wants to carry her work along. She is writing about putting the fun in dysfunctional relationships and parenting a strong-willed child.

I can only imagine how these topics came to her.

It struck me how different and yet alike our worlds are. She has lost her day-to-day ministry, expected in the church world familiar to her. She counseled other women, for instance, something I would never be expected to do formally in my wife’s congregation. We have credentials and boundaries and authorizations. She has life experience (clearly!); the only credential she needs is being married to her husband. The ministry he serves has it’s own publishing arm, so once the big fish approves, her work will appear in print.

And yet we’re both fifty-something and living through a tremendous life change and adapting to a new environment because of our spouses’ careers. We’re both writers. We’re both hoping to somehow show care for others through the ministry of the small-w word.

She spoke with enthusiasm about the ideas she has, and here’s what stayed with me: “I have been working on one idea, and then last week, He dropped this other idea into my head.”

Sometimes I wonder if I work too hard at figuring these things out.

When I got home and read the comments on yesterday’s blog post, here and on Facebook, they included the following, “This is the beginning of a book – for people who can’t put what they feel into words!”

Okay, dear God. I’m listening now.

Challenge accepted.

5 thoughts on “She sat down next to me”

  1. I just love your observations…. so many layers – if you have the heart to look for them! thank you

  2. “I can only imagine how these topics came to her.” This totally cracked me up in the midst of an otherwise sobering piece.

    I am wondering: Did you share your own story with her?

    1. When we were talking about apps for composition, I opened Pages to show it to her and what came up was a sermon. When I said the word “sermon” aloud, her expression changed, as if a set of thoughts processed very, very quickly: “Sermon is a church word but this is a woman, I am very confused!” She did go on to talk about the ministry her husband works with, and I did not go on to talk about any of mine.

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