Saturday, February 11, 2006

February 11, 2006 - In the Lee of the Storm

Today’s not such a good day. All the symptoms of post-chemo malaise are here: exhaustion, queasiness, headache, restlessness, lack of appetite. Yesterday, I could feel the downward slide beginning. Today, it’s here in earnest.

A day or so before this point in the last chemo cycle, I had decided to bow out of that coming Sunday’s service. I’d hoped to have the energy to help lead worship that day, and even to preach, but it was not to be. Claire took over for me on that occasion – and by all accounts did a fine job.

This time, I’m under no illusions about my ability to function. Robin’s slated to preach – although, as it turns out, there are other circumstances that could put Claire in the pulpit again.

The reason is a heavy snowstorm – a Nor’easter – that’s already making its arrival. Right now, it’s still just raining outside, but before long the temperature will drop, and we may have as many as 12 inches of the white stuff. If our typical seacoast weather patterns prevail, we’ll probably get considerably less than areas further inland, but right now it’s impossible to say.

I offer Robin the use of a guest room here at the manse, but – as a veteran of the infamous lake-effect snows of Buffalo, New York – she declines, confident she can make it in on her own, as long as the roads have been plowed. If we do experience the worst-case scenario, and the snowplows haven’t made it to her street, then the backup plan is for Claire to walk across the street to the church sanctuary, and lead informal worship for anyone adventurous enough to challenge the drifts.

During my fifteen years here as pastor, we’ve only had to cancel Sunday services once – and that was during a howling blizzard so severe that the New Jersey Governor had ordered all cars to stay off the roads. Even in the worst weather, we generally unlock the doors and see who comes. If it’s just a handful, we become a country church for the day. There’s a wonderful sense of spontaneity and informality at worship on heavy snow days: we’re happy to see those who do trudge through the drifts or pull up in four-wheel-drive vehicles – although we fully understand why others can’t, due to risky travel conditions. Certainly, we’d never want anyone to take any undue risks.

Yet for me, there will be no such party atmosphere. I’m already snowed in, by the effects of the chemo. There's nothing for me to do but wait it out, and trust others to do what I would ordinarily do myself...

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