All of us have moments of re-entry into our Normal. We return home from vacation. We’re released from the hospital. We get back to work after an out of town conference.
- “Uncontrolled entry” is what happens when space debris or asteroids come crashing to earth. Sometimes they careen into a perfectly tranquil setting. Sometimes they plummet into the ocean never to be seen again.
- “Controlled entry” is what happens when NASA guides a spacecraft back home. This orderly process is called EDL: Entry. Descent. Landing.
I prefer to be space craft rather than space trash, of course. I’d rather keep the careening and the plummeting to a minimum. Gliding is good. Crashing is not-so-good.
When I re-enter after being away, I’ve learned to choreograph the transition if at all possible. Add a buffer day between vacation and returning to work so that there’s time to recover/do laundry/re-fill the fridge. Clean the house before leaving so that we don’t return to a mess. Clean sheets changed before leaving make the first night home so much sweeter.
Today I re-enter my office for the first time in almost two weeks. It hasn’t been a time away like other times. I left as a commissioner to the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA. I return as one of two co-moderators of that Assembly with 103 weeks of added service to the church in my future.
Co-Moderator or Moderator of the General Assembly is not a paid position. The Office of the General Assembly expects this to be a half-time job and since I am sharing this job with another pastor, we will each be giving about a week each month to our denomination. We hope to model a new way to serve in this office to show that it’s possible to continue in “regular ministry” while also being co-mods.
I’ve planned a gentle re-entry to my “real job.” Yesterday was a work day but it was spent in an off-site meeting with a single focus. Today, there will be catch-up meetings and some debriefing about what happened at General Assembly and looking forward to shifting roles and schedules and wading through ten days of office emails and voice mails. It might feel uncontrolled. But I trust that God will navigate me.
Taking gentle care of ourselves is surprisingly difficult. We who are in helping professions or have helping personalities tend to be self-care challenged. But this is why God invented naps and pedicures and automatic email responses and Sabbath. I won’t get everything done today, but that’s just fine. We never get everything done. It reminds us that we don’t actually spin the planets.
As we come and go this summer, may our re-entries be controlled, may our descents back down to earth be smooth, and may we all stick our landings. Thanks to all who have committed to praying for me and Denise in the coming 103 weeks. We both need and appreciate it.