I was a lonely pastor in my twenties. I lived alone in a town of 400 and was the solo pastor of a lovely church with a very part-time organist and – until she died after tripping over the mimeo machine in her kitchen – a volunteer bulletin person.
It was the kind of place where people phoned me if they saw a light on in the manse at 3 am – concerned that I might be sick. It was the kind of place where – if out of town guests were visiting – everyone commented on the out of state cars in the driveway.
It was the kind of place where I left town on my Sabbath – either taking the train to NYC for an overnight with ALC or driving the short distance to Manchester, VT for the day where I ate blueberry pancakes at a little place across the street from an independent book store. And then I spent the rest of the day in that book store. I read art books and poetry and it saved my life in terms of my loneliness.
I also read The New Yorker cover to cover every week because it was my escape. I lived in far upstate rural New York and it connected me to the city.
Sometimes I wrote notes to Peter Cameron after reading one of his stories and sometimes he wrote back. Once I attended a reading by May Sarton at the independent book store and I wrote her too. She sent me a an autographed book of her poems. I had time to do those things. Living alone = more alone time.
Today, for the first time in a long time, I read The New Yorker cover to cover. I read about construction issues at the 21 Club and about the sad Paisley Park museum where Prince used to live. I read a cute story by Simon Rich and a book review for Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein by Leonard Bernstein’s oldest daughter. I read some articles about politics in Mexico and looked at all the cartoons. It was like eating dessert all day long.
Call me elitist/blessed/lucky. Whatever you wish. But what’s lovely today is that TDA and I are the former co-moderators of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA. So I took Monday off.
Cover of The New Yorker on August 28, 1965. (Mom’s 32nd birthday)