As it turns out, it is both a sense of defeat and victory in coming to terms with the truth. It is at once the death of the dream, the fantasy, the imagination that seems to fill his days. And yet, at the same time, it is the gift of clarity and robust personal agency. And while may be uglier than the dream, in the end it is far more stable and hopeful than any other fantasy he might come up with.
It had been another fitful night of sleep – if you could call it that. He spent more time awake, tossing and turning and muttering his curses into the darkness, than sleeping. The rest and recovery of those deep moments of relaxation that allow you to drift out of consciousness remained elusive. He couldn’t explain his insomnia, his heart felt heavy, his mind restless. A million questions raced through his thoughts as he slowly came to the realization that any solution to his anxious spirit seemed beyond his ability to access them. He was alone and no one was coming to help him, to deliver him from his internal madness, to shine the light into his darkness.
So, fine. He resolved within his own mind to just move forward – what else could he do? After all, if this is the way it is, he would man up and just take care of business. No one really gave a shit about the darkness that lurked inside of him anyway. He wasn’t here to receive help. He wasn’t bound to be the cause of another’s concern. No, he had a role to play. He had a responsibility to carry out, a vocation to see through, and no one cared if he had a good night’s sleep or if he felt broken and empty and angry with God. There were people who needed him. They needed his words of comfort and the promise of something more. They needed the assurance that there was help for them, that one was coming from beyond their own experience who could speak truth and hope and promise into their lives. He knows how much they need it. He knows that he is the one to do this task. It is his commission, his lot, his portion, if you will. No one else is coming to help. So it’s time to quit his bitching and get after it.
He eases himself out of bed, careful to not wake his wife. Moving slow with tired and achy muscles he begins the usual routine. Every step is well rehearsed, and he moves through them without much thought. The few thoughts that do come though are perceived through deep sighs as he hesitantly enters the shower or lathers up his face or buttons the top button of his coat. He arrives at the office at the usual time and prepares himself to give what he has been called to give. To “hand over the goods” as they say.
It’s not that he doesn’t enjoy his vocation. He does. In fact, he knows he’s pretty good at it. At least compared with most of his colleagues. It’s not the doing of the task that troubles him. Rather, no one thinks he needs what these people need. They don’t think he needs his own services, because, well, he is the one rendering them. Or perhaps, what is really troubling him, is the dream that if he did by some twist of fate need what these people needed, that it would be available to him. There would be one who would help, who would be there, who would offer the compassion, the love, the forgiveness and welcome that he has offered to countless others. But this is the same hope that he is learning to let go, in those restless nights. Which provides his resolve to get down to work, and do what he is there to do.
He softly mutters his well-rehearsed prayer as he gets ready. He knows that he will be held accountable for what he does. So, he checks over his notes one last time. Alb and cincture fit well, stole and pectoral cross are carefully placed around his neck. They are all put on with expert care and precision. He takes a long hard look in the mirror. The face of the man that others know simply as pastor stares back at him. No one is coming, so it’s time to get to work.