Making Pathways – And Teeth – Straight

I took a personal day today; we had a couple of medical appointments on the schedule, and it’s been a grueling two weeks. I’ve learned this about myself: Too many days in a row with no empty spaces causes tremendous dis-ease in my soul. At heart, I am an introvert, although I do enjoy people – but silence and space and nothing on the calendar is essential every few weeks, when our Sabbath and days off get overrun by Things That Must Be Done.

So today was the day. Essentially, all it means is a) I don’t go into the office, and b) I don’t check email. That, in itself, leaves a great deal of space; but inevitably, my mind goes to work-related things. though. How can it not? Ministry is life; it is people and meaningful conversations and pain and sorrow and joy and celebration. It is connection.
All that happened today, but in a dimension beyond the stress of my usual schedule. I found myself connecting with staff at the orthodontist’s office in an unusual way, as they asked if I’d be a guinea pig for a new marketing / branding idea they were considering. In my yoga pants, sweatshirt and unwashed hair (day off, remember?) I sat in the treatment consultant’s office pretending to be a new patient. We had a great time, actually, discussing the difference between “fees” and “investments” and everything in between, from brochure layout to quick names for payment options. Conversation meandered through orthodontics to helping people in need and ministry opportunities. Snippets of personal conversations ebbed and flowed. I found myself genuinely enjoying the connection with these three people that, up to this point, had simply been the ones making my kid’s teeth straight.
I never really take off that pastor hat; it just comes with the territory. I must say that today was one of the first times I felt completely comfortable in my own skin, which now includes the title of “pastor” in a different context (for me, anyway), outside of the church. But ironically, it wasn’t because of anything I did; our pastor talked yesterday about how we can “make the pathway straight” for those who need it. Orthodontists make teeth straight…and today’s conversation made a pathway straight for my soul in a unique, grace-filled way. Connecting with these three people was an unexpected joy, one that filled me. I was blessed.
David got his braces off and ended up sitting in the waiting room for 30 minutes. It’s a familiar refrain for all of my kids.
“Come on! Can’t we leave? I’m ready to go!”

“Mom’s talking.”

/ / /

Back home, I curled up with a novel and pushed reality out of my mind. The sun was shining, the afternoon was quiet and still and full of gentle promise. My husband works on instrument repairs on Mondays; his able assistant runs the music store and Tony stays in the basement, dismantling and reforming guitars and mandolins and ukuleles and whatever else has come into his hands for healing. It’s his happy place, and the random selection of blues on Pandora floated through the floorboard, a sure indicator that it was a good day for him, too.
I heard the opening strains of “our” song, the angular stretch of a National steel guitar, the simple suspended pattern and hovering bass that marked a forever moment for us. I stopped reading and sat for a moment, just listening. 
I knew he was listening, too. Quite often, I tend to over-romanticize our relationship; but there are certain things that are ours, and we both know it. It’s solid, private and hidden deep in our hearts. In that our lives are lived in the midst of a lot of people who demand our attention, from customers to congregations to kids, these singular things that are only ours are treasures, hidden in our hearts.
Which is why I will not tell you the name of our song, or the artist who wrote it.
But I will tell you that as the first chorus began, I found myself navigating the basement stairs to find him, waiting for me. I nestled my head in that space right under his shoulder, and we stood together in that moment. He wrapped his arms around me and we listened together, and it was more than a song; it was a harbinger of what is to come, that we will always and forever have this portrait of our life together wrapped in a melody that makes us stop what we’re doing and find one another. 

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