One of the ways I've understood my life in ministry is to compare it to surfing. (Full Disclosure: I am not a surfer. I can barely keep my balance while singing from the hymnal and processing into and out of worship.)
Klutzy as I am I understand the dynamic relationship between wave and "runner." In order for a surfer to be credited with a quality "performance" the wave has to present itself both as something beautiful and challenging.
Most of us are impressed with mountainous walls of water dwarfing the surfer in fast descent. Some are keenly interested in the intricate trickery surfers will perform when the waves are not so dominant.
And every so often there are those incredible moments when surfer and wave seem to find each other and then . . . magic!
Can you see how the metaphor works to identify the relationship between priest and parish?
You can nearly equate each "big one" with those big Sundays and Holidays in the church calendar with the Sunday after Labor Day, All Saints', Advent AND Christmas, Shrove Tuesday/Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Holy Week/Easter, Pentecost, July 4. Each occasion is like a wave that rushes us through, after which we must turn back to paddling and preparing, planning and positioning.
My sense especially this time of year, is that we're about to start paddling out for the next big run that is Holy Week and Easter. Indeed, Lent with its intentionality and aspiration, it's structure and regimen is like heading out to catch the next big one more than any other part of our liturgical lives.
Nothing characterizes the time between waves like paddling. Just plain ol' stroke after stroke. Into the water goes our right hand and our left, our right and our left. The Lord be with you, and with thy spirit. The Lord be with you, and also with you. Let us pray.
So this year let's let Lent be for praying, more than anything else. Prayer that is constant, like the strokes that carry the surfer out even over smaller waves that are disruptive and often still tempting.
And the next thing you know its Palm Sunday.