A young, naive, wannabe preacher looked incredulously at a renegade, social-activist, outrageous, foul-mouthed Southern Baptist preacher and asked why he ever went into the ministry. The preacher’s response? “I was called, God-damn it, I was called.”
Sometimes, I feel that way about the ministry and, of all things, writing poetry.
About forty-five years after ordination and about the time of retirement, I realized that I actually loved that of which I had the privilege of being a part. Mostly, until then, I just got through it because “I was called.”
“Coulda, woulda, shoulda been a lawyer?” kinds of questions nefariously crept in along the way. Taking home the congregational conflicts and parishioners’ rejections and then, in what my late wife called “misplaced aggression,” taking them out on family? “Lord, Have Mercy.”
And about poetry? Why blog it? No tangible rewards as judged by our status-seeking-society’s standards. Not getting rich, not selling tons of my books, glad to hear from a few friends now and then and always appreciative for the one or two “likes” about which I get notified. Nope, if I delusionally sought after that I would be deemed a “dope.” It’s called “Being Called.”
It has been eight years that I have been blogging poetry, consumed at times by it, obsessive perhaps, unable to stop for any other reward than the simple doing of it — in other words, “Being Called.” And I’ve been reading poetry every day for those eight years and today having written a poem and having read the two poems in my inbox and having looked up two or three others, I realized that I actually love writing and reading poetry. I’m glad it didn’t take forty-five years.
I retired from ministry and haven’t felt the need or desire ever to do the tasks of ordination again. “Thank you, Jesus.” Don’t get me wrong. I loved preaching but enough already, like the retired baseball pitcher who is content to toss a ball with his granddaughter, if she asks, but has no desire to stand on the mound ever again.
And poetry? But like the retired minister who will die in the pulpit, I probably will die with a blank Pages’ page before me and a rhymed couplet on my mind.