I had a marvelous experience with my ministry service this morning; serving the very early morning mass and then the more formal choral mass. I didn’t make any major mistakes, having had a great mentor show me more than once how to knot my rope tie that goes at my waist. I was able to move swiftly and effortlessly from person to person offering the cup, “the blood of Christ, the cup of salvation”. I always want to meet the eyes of everyone I serve with the joy that feel when I connect. The experience is a bit overwhelming for me, the fledgeling. Next week, I serve the choral mass and then the high mass for the choral evensong, the first of the new season with the bishop. I am given much to be thankful for in my ministry work and I am honored.

On my long morning run, I prayed for keeping my mind in a good place to serve all who came to our masses. This is always my challenge and always my wish when I serve. I prayed and meditated that I would do a proper job; giving freely to each person I touched. Still, I just don’t feel worthy of the trust that has been placed in me.

In medicine/surgery, I always have my excellent training to draw from. I try to remember my first cases and how I felt but in surgery, I always felt more prepared because I had the steady hand of my professor and his wisdom as I moved through those early cases. I felt completely surrounded by his experience from which I might draw if I faltered, which I didn’t. I studied and honed each skill but with my ministerial duties, I don’t have that wisdom at hand. I must draw from inside myself and listen to my empathic feelings while moving from person to person, listening and connecting. I have much to learn still.

After the service, I drove home on a beautiful clear day; taking in the deep blue of the lake that I ran past early this morning. My early morning runs begin at 3:00 AM when I can’t see the water but can hear the sound of the waves hitting shore as I run. The stars are out by thousands with the moon waning down to a small sliver. The glow of the streetlights punctuated by a couple of automobiles racing along the streets as I moved faster and faster in the crisp morning air. I stop to bow to the crosses on the Catholic, Lutheran and Presbyterian churches as I pass them. I give honor to the war memorial as I pass that garden too. So many who have gone before me and have given their service/lives so that I might be able to live and run free at this early hour. My only companions are the multitudes of deer that don’t fear me but watch me run past them as they graze.

My sadness this afternoon is for my friend that I miss deeply. I promised myself that I wouldn’t miss him because he’s acting upon feelings that he believes are best for him. I promised that I would honor those feelings and I do honor them but I can’t stop the tears. I offered him friendship which he has thrown back and away. I take on the feelings that I am not good enough for him to consider a friend. I know that we had a great connection; affirmation in both directions at times but I honor what he feels now; a hatred for me that runs so cruelly deep and I ask why is this?

I know that in time, these feelings of depression will abate for me but not today. My heart is heavy because of them. I try to channel those feelings into producing excellent lectures and my studies, but the tears fall. Tears are my constant companions these days and I pray that they stop. If the tears stop, does that mean I have no feelings any more or does the cessation of tears mean that I am finally learning to protect my heart from danger?

My pilot friend Mike has promised to take me up in a new faster plane which he knows will be cheery but he’s delayed a week. He calls to make sure that I am OK because he has known me well, been an awesome friend over these 20+ years since we first met at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. I am very grateful for having Mike as a friend who doesn’t make fun of my feelings but knows when I am sad.

So I will run and I will meditate and I will be very hard on myself. I stopped indulging myself long ago. I won’t inflict me on any of my friends here but will do another run this evening as the temperature drops and the sun begins to set over the Lake. I will celebrate my solitude and push my body as hard as I possibly can. I am no threat; no danger and certainly nothing to anyone at this point. This Valley is deep; I might not get out this time as Mike has warned.



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