This horrible comment left me remembering a young priest who died in a car accident while driving between two parishes on icy roads about fifteen years ago. I was in seminary at the time and have never forgotten him:
Just to be clear, Iâ€™ve been told to sleep at church (some tiny country parishes donâ€™t even have a decent bathroom much less a little place to sleep), go anyway, doesnâ€™t matter if lot is plowed, clergy and those who live close can â€œtrudge for Jesus.â€ I did not have to make the call as a rectorâ€¦my wardens made it for me and INSISTED!â€¦.and they were right.
Joie, this isn’t to say that you or your people are horrible, it’s just a horrible comment to me today because this “we need to trudge for Jesus” attitude is literally killing people in my region right now. This heroic, “we can tough it out” mentality is not stoic, it’s suicidal. We have had eight carbon monoxide poisonings in town since the blizzard hit, and many are still trying to endure the cold with nothing but wood stoves to keep them warm. They are now on their third day without heat. Children and elders are especially at risk.
What a stupid idea, asking a minister or anyone else to spend the night in a freezing building without electricity. Is that some kind of Hazing For Jesus? You have to prove your love of God and your loyalty to the Church by suffering and shivering? You’re a better pastor for risking your life or for enduring a night of terror listening to trees smash against the roof of the 19th century building?
Or you could realize that your life is actually, literally in danger and wind up calling 911 for a police rescue. THAT’s a brilliant use of your brain and of community resources. I’m friends with too many public safety officials and workers to think that trying to keep a church open during a blizzard is anything but sheer egotistical madness. Trust me, you will be needed in one safe piece when the skies have cleared and the ground is covered with three feet of snow and ice, people are scared and evacuating and without power for several days, pets need to be rescued, home hospitality need to be coordinated and people are counting on you to be Informational Central for the parish.
Here endeth my rant. I’m tired. We got power at the parsonage last night but many still don’t have any and the roads are just getting decent enough for me to drive safely around and check on folks. We are learning a LOT about emergency preparedness and I will be compiling a list of Things We Need To Know as soon as I get some time. They will include:
Why You Should Have a Cell Phone And Have Basic Texting Skills
How To Set Up a Voice Mail Account On Your Cell Phone
How To Program A GPS (And Why You Should Have One)
We Need Your Cell Phone Number At Church
How To Check The Church Twitter and Facebook Pages From Your Smart Phone
Packing A “Run-For-It” Bag
Wood Stove Safety
Gotta run now, pigeons. It’s still a mess where we are. As an aside, we are living out an interesting metaphor for poverty in America right now as a community: those with heat and power and dug-out cars are back to business. Down the street or a half mile away, there are many who are still huddled in the dark around wood stoves, eating cold soup out of a can and trapped indoors by the snow drifts. It’s so easy and tempting to stop worrying or thinking about them once we’re back to our zippy lives. But we can’t. We need to zip to them with shovels and pack them in our own cars and get them to the shelter.