Sunday, November 25, 2007

deep breaths and lessons learned

Sometimes I wonder what I would do if while preaching I needed to excuse myself for a restroom break. Or what if I got sick right in the middle of a sermon? If I am being completely honest I must say that most times I prepare to preach my stomach does back flips or at least one big back flip. Never in my wildest daydreams of pulpiteering what ifs did I consider the possibility of a runny nose. I'm the girl that keeps a kleenex neatly folded in the front of her Bible. I was schooled by Helen Fling, Queen of the Hankies, and I've never left home without one, until today.

My commute to church is one hour and thirty minutes. That means I should leave my house no later than 8:10 on Sunday mornings. Today I left at 8:33. I pulled in to the church parking lot at 10:00 am - the exact time our service starts. Not good. I parked the car and rummaged through the mess in search of my Sunday morning Bible, the one with the strategically placed Kleenex. I had to settle for my GA Camp vesper Bible instead and off I ran towards the sanctuary. With prelude still playing I slipped in just in time to grab the bulletin announcing that I was to do the welcome followed by the gospel reading. I was winded, I was frazzled, I was not prepared.

"Welcome," I said, followed by who knows what. Due to the fact that I had forgotten to take my Bible with me to the podium I had to leave the platform to grab it before beginning the 22 verses from Luke. I was winded, I was frazzled, I was not prepared, and then my nose started to run. This was not the typical running of the nose - this was torrential. My GA Vesper Bible was useless. There was no tissue hidden inside, only the remnants of Hephzibah bread and an Azie Taylor Morton dollar. I did everything short of wiping my nose on the sleeve of my jacket.

In middle school I remember Mrs. Leake, my chorus teacher, discussing the benefits of proper breathing while singing. I notice that sometimes I breathe incorrectly while speaking in public. When this happens there is nothing I can do to repair my cadence unless I stop talking and literaly gather my breath. Verses 13 through 16 were labored and decorated with drips. Hanging out at the end of Luke 24 verse 17 were these words, "They stood still." And as I read them I stopped speaking and focused on breathing.

The congregation froze and there was that awkward silence that I have learned to respect and some find uncomfortable. I'm not sure how long I paused - mabye ten seconds - and when I began speaking again I found my rythym. Breathing deeply seemed to help my nose because the dripping subsided and by the time I got to verse 35 I could have read for days.

I sat down and wished for an opportunity to start the morning over. I would have left on time, located my preaching Bible, and entered the service at a slower pace. There were no do-overs this morning. I sat through the service fluctuating between laughing at myself and chastising myself for being such a goof.

I haven't been standing still enough lately. I don't think I've been breathing enough either. Today I am thankful for congregations that love us even if we had to wipe our noses on our sleeves.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am thankful for the lessons you learn...and teach!

7:32 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Good post, friend. I hate that moment when you realize that you forgot to breathe before you started talking, which--at least in my case--is always immediately followed by a panic much like I've forgotten to breathe before being submerged in a very large tank of water.

3:00 PM  

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