Wednesdays are my day to have office hours out at the Mother Ship (the parish that planted our little mission congregation). I work with our sublime parish admininstrator, the Amazon Empress, putting finishing touches on the bulletin and the announcements, make sure we get consecrated elements from the noon Eucharist at the Mother Ship. Today I've got a homebound parishioner to visit, follow-up calls to a few folks, a drop-by for the fellow whose wife we bid farewell to last Sunday.
I like Wednesdays, because it's when I am physically closest to my parishioners (except for Sunday, of course) and it is hard to minister to parishioners who are 40 miles away from home. This was reinforced once again when I got a call yesterday afternoon from one of my peeps - a son of another parishioner had an allergic reaction and was brought to the local ER for treatment. I talked with the mom by phone - the youngster is fine now, thanks be to God - but there was a moment of indecision: "Do I drive out there (45 minutes to an hour away, depending on the traffic) or do I just call and hope for the best?" It was easy to wait in this case, but if I had gotten a call that one of my older folks had been brought in to the ER, it would have been tougher to say to myself "stay home and wait." I do not like having to make such decisions; I'd much rather just hop in the car and go.
I do much of my work with parishioners by phone or email because of the distance. I can't participate in community events where our kids are a part of the action as easily because of the distance. I just can't be as PRESENT (that wonderful CPE word) as I would like to be for these good folks, and it gnaws at me.
One of the places where I may be called has a rectory right alongside the church. The world's easiest commute. It would be a radical shift after serving part-time at a place far away. And on Wednesdays, it sure does look appealing.
Time to get into the car and drive 40 miles to the west...