Thursday, July 2, 2020

I miss an audience . . .

Ever loved something so much, and later find out why?  That happened to me recently. 

I have been a certified therapeutic music entertainer since 2011.   I have sung in nursing homes and senior  centers on a regular weekly or monthly basis since 2005.  

Due to Covid-19, I haven't performed musically since February 2020.  Stupid Covid-19.

I haven't been playing much guitar either this past 3 months.  I pick one up most every day, but only play for a few minutes then put it back on the rack or back in its' case.  

Not having an audience to sing to, to engage with, is hitting pretty hard.  I love to perform.  I love to get people singing.  I've confessed that I am not the greatest singer or guitar player.  I'm probably in the "dime -a-dozen" category regarding both.  However, I can get other people to sing!  Call it a gift. I've been a song leader in several churches and for several groups.  I was the featured singer in a band for almost 10 years, because I could get the others in the band to sing with me, as well as people in the audience. 

And now, I don't have an audience.  Well, more specifically . . . I don't have a live audience. 

I guess this can all relate to my being a preacher as well.  I truly miss the engagement of the people in the congregation when I preach.  Preaching to a camera is not the same. 

I'm in a spot of sorts.  I need to work through this.  The other day I decided to sell all my guitars.  I quickly gave my self a symbolic "slap-in-the-face" and sternly told my inner child to "get-a-hold-of-yourself."

Yep . . . I need to process this, and I need to do it now. 

Too mask or not to mask . . .

Please, for the sake of yourself, and everyone else . . . put on a mask!  You are protecting yourself as well as those around you.  

Our Governor just made masks mandatory when people are in public.   I may reconsider my recent decision to not vote for him again. 

Rick ><>

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Can we have a tater tot?

This is what happens when you say "I'm full!" but there are still tater tots left on your plate! 

Friday, June 12, 2020

In praise of the Ukulele!

Seriously . . . (well for the moment) . . . 

Is there anything that sounds happier than a baritone ukulele strung up with strings that will let it be tuned to the same notes as a tenor ukulele?

I don't think so!!  Playing the ukulele has been a delight during these past 3 months of Covid-19 related stuff.   

Learn to play ukulele.  You may begin to understand that playing the ukulele broadens your understanding of happiness!

Lessons learned while pastoring in a pandemic . . .

I've learned a couple of lessons about pastoring in a pandemic.

First lesson . . . pray the Serenity Prayer E-V-E-R-Y S-I-N-G-L-E D-A-Y!!!!   

Pray it several times a day. 

For those who don't know the prayer, it is attributed to the late Theologian, Riehold  Niebur. 

God, grant me the SERENITY to accept the thinks I cannot change; COURAGE to change the things I can, and WISDOM to know the difference.  Amen. 

This is one of those profound prayers that seems to hit-the-spot, so to speak, whenever you pray it.  I don't pray it enough. 

Lesson learned!

Second lesson . . . don't forget to to let the leaders of your church lead!!!!

I was recently "lovingly" (translated, taken to the woodshed) about this by one of the leaders of the church I pastor.  Her most loving comment, "You don't have to do everything."

Of course she was right, and I thanked her for caring enough about me to bring the matter up.  We had a good talk, and I actually felt better than I did when I started the day.  

That's what happens sometimes when you let go of a weight that you didn't know your were carrying. 

Lesson learned!

In my humble opinion, 

Rick ><>

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Overnight Change in the "Environment" of Ministry

So much has changed. 

So fast, almost overnight in so many ways. 

Since the 2nd week of March, I have probably worked, or even been inside, my office at the church for less than 20 hours total.  I'm being generous . . . it may actually be closer to 10 hours.  Other than Sunday mornings for a couple or hours, when we prep for and then do our live stream service, I've not been in a pretty good sized multi-building complex that I am responsible for whether I'm there or not. 

Since the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, I've done what many have done.  I moved my actual work space to my home.  The front formal living room is now a "command center" of sorts, and the honest truth is that I am getting so much more work done here than I do at my office at the church.  Fewer interruptions at home.  Makes sense.  

My desk is now a working video station with two computer screens, a Blue Yeti USB mic, notepads, note books and my usual array of 3x5 and 4x6 index cards.

Seriously, how to people live without index cards?

My old computer desk is behind me and its covered in books and notes and project folders.  I have two guitars at the ready near the desk and two ukuleles, which I am playing more than the guitars because I can reach them without getting up from my office chair.  I have a 3-light lamp stand in front of my desk so that I have adequate light for live streaming.  

On the floor by my computer desk is a workbag filled with all the stuff I need to enable my iPad Air to be my "everything" when it comes to live-streaming worship or interviews on the go.  My camera bag is against the wall by the ukuleles.  A new micro HDMI to HDMI cable will be here tomorrow, and I've ordered a new video capture device that is still hopefully in stock.  In other words, the camera is getting ready to go to work, and be a new part of my everyday carry. 

I know that many clergy colleagues who might read this can relate.  You are working more from home, doing things more digitally than ever before.  If you are like me, an old dog who still likes to eat, you've fast-paced the learning curve on all the new digital stuff you choose not to embrace in the past.  It's good to know that I have gotten good and most of it.  I initially feared that I couldn't get up to speed fast enough.  I pretty much got up-to-speed overnight.  Thank you Amazon for improving your delivery times after the initial Covid-19 rush. 

I was trained, and it is still my preference, to do ministry as much as possible face-to-face.  Kind of hard to do today, since two of my doctors keep reminding me that I'm in the "at risk" category health wise.  As one of my doctors said, "Rick, you really DON'T want to catch Covid." 

Point taken.  

So, I am wearing a mask everywhere I go.  Often I'm one of the only ones with a mask on. 
As tall as I am (6'6") a lot of people that know me will still recognize me even if I'm wearing a mask. 

I'm texting people more than I have in the past.  I'm talking to staff, teaching and counseling people using Zoom. 

Question, why is it that people will share really personal stuff on line, but now so much in person?  

I'm reading more than I have in the past, and taking more classes.  I didn't know that N. T. Wright has online classes now . . . O saints be blessed!!  So does Richard Rohr and other teachers whose books I read. 

Funny thing . . . I know in the near future that I will have to start having regular office hours again.  I may have to move a few things from my home office to my work office.  But I do get the impressions that folks are not going to come by as much as in the past.  People are still worried about "being safe" where ever they go.  

As far as the new normal . . . I actually believe that the new normal is perhaps 1-2 years away.   Agility, which I've never been accused of being an expert of, or blessed with, is going to be the primary quality of all pastors who move on to achieve some success.  Anyway, I've learned that it's hard to go back to normal when normal doesn't exist anymore.

The future is unkind to those who are unprepared.  This has been a constant truth for centuries, and evidenced throughout history.  The best thing a leader can do is prepare . . . and learn new things, read great books, spend time in deep devotional practice . . . and adapt to a new working environment that changes as / when it needs too.

In my humble opinion, that is . . . 

Rick ><>

I miss an audience . . .