Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Night Thoughts

I love the nighttime. Always have. It is quiet. It is restful. The stresses and issues of the day finally lie down and take their own naps and allow me to do what I really want to do. Usually that means writing. Sometimes I am a faithful journaler. Sometimes I am a faithful blogger. The journal gets the things that nobody is meant to read. It is pass worded and sometimes even encrypted. My wife knows my passwords. I am a lousy designer of them and besides, there is little in my life she doesn't already know about. I've never been to Amsterdam, robbed a bank, shot at a human being or even failed to pay a parking ticket. I've only had one of those in my life and it was in Denver where I could easily have skated away into oblivion. Nope. I paid the sucker before I left town. I just don't have a lot to hide.

The encrypted stuff is different. Sometimes I think I've been a pastor too long. Or maybe I just have pastored in a place where weird things happen. I have and they do. I have a "book" that I've written that details a period in my life when all hell (literally) broke loose. The "book" was actually a journal account of some of those events. In 2001 I "hit the wall" and got myself sick. It was stress induced. I ran out of adrenaline. Odd, huh? But I did and it was very painful. It took me 7 months to get out of the acute stages and an entire year before it went away altogether. I've flirted with it again over the last few years because life got squirrelly again. That's why I blew the whistle on myself, threw the yellow penalty flag at my own feet, and resigned. Bold move? Not at all. My bride tells me that had I not done that she is convinced that my funeral would have been sooner rather than later. She's one cheery woman.

No, when I die the encrypted stuff dies with me. It deals with stuff like child abuse, murder/suicide, plain old suicide, babies that didn't make it, busted up families where teens pay the ultimate price, breaking the news to people that someone they love very much has been killed, getting called to the jail because some drunk wants to talk to a pastor, getting bit by a dog while praying with a woman whose husband is dying in the other room, and other sick and sad stuff like that. (Pay attention pastor-wanna-bee's. Ya gotta get that stuff out somewhere so if you don't have anyone to talk to at least talk to your journal. The encrypted one.) I've had a tough week so far. I don't really know why. When you don't work (note: I do clean the house, etc. at this point in time so applaud appropriately.) you have plenty of time to think. Sometimes I think too much. That's my problem I guess. It becomes an emotional drain. As a friend told me recently, "don't should all over yourself." When she said it she spoke quickly and it didn't sound like she said, "should." I think you can figure it out. I blinked a couple of times and asked her to repeat herself. She did ... more slowly. She pronunciated "should." And then she told me that the worst think to do is to sit around after you make a major life decision and throw "shoulds" at yourself. You know. "I should have done this." "I should have said that." She's right. I should stop shoulding all over myself.

Night thoughts are the places that I let my mind go when I feel like it is dark enough that I can hide it. Silly. Yes, it is silly. No one knows what I am thinking about in the daytime either. But the darkness just makes it feel somehow ... safer. That is when I allow my brain to wander. It gets the freedom to go where it wants to go. When I was a young man and I gave my thoughts their own freedom to roam they often went to places where they should not. Now that I am a bit older and hopefully a lot wiser they do not go there as much anymore. There are just so many "real life" things to sort out. I have learned that fantasy is best left as fantasy. I enjoy it on the movie screen or in a good novel. Not that I watch or read many. You see, I have let life get to heavy. That is never a good thing. But for a season it was necessary. I had no real choice. Like our old friends the Blue's Brothers I was on "a mission from God." And I have completed my mission. And now my night thoughts are helping me to debrief myself. And that, my friend, is a really dangerous thing to do. One should never debrief one's self.

It is dark. It is quiet. The love of my life breathes gently in her sleep beside me. I pulled an extra blanked onto her because it is cold outside. Of course it is warm inside our home. But there is a third layer and it is cold there too. That third layer is even deeper inside than the inside of my house. It is the inside of my soul. It is having its own ice storm. Don't worry. I know how it ends. The ice will not last. It will be warming up inside soon. I am working on that a little bit more every day. Pretty soon it will be summer inside again. For now I will just do what I did as a kid growing up in Chicago. When it gets cold I will turn to my father and ask him to please turn up the heat a little bit. He always did because he loved me. It worked then. It will work now. Watch ...

"Father ... Almighty Creator of all that is too big to understand and all that is too small to see ... would You please bring Your Fire once again? I am cold. And You are the only One who can make me warm again. Thank You, Father. In advance."

Just watch. God knows my night thoughts. He hears them before I think them. And history has assured me that He is walking to the thermostat even now.