Pastoral ministry, eh! It's a rich and heady blend of deadlines and people who should be given time.
I was talking about this the other day with my friend Nicodème. He was in town visiting his gorgeous little penthouse apartment in central Bordeaux and he invited us round for lunch. He doesn't know Bordeaux that well so after lunch Pat scurried back to the Maison de la Bible and I took him on a tour of my standard meet-up places (first DAN, where the church meets, then to Books and Coffee, Verde Néro and to Les Mots Bleus, the three cafés where I sometimes meet up with people, then to Maison de la Bible.
I talked about how it goes through me when people say "I know how busy you are," before asking for help, a visit, whatever.
Coincidentally Tim Challies, Reformed Blogger Extraordinaire, just discussed the whole issue of being frantic, being lazy, and whatever comes in between! Read his reflections here.
Then yesterday I had a practical workshop on how to make space for people and keep to a schedule. Firstly a lunch date with friend, Didier. 11:30 at the cathedral. Then a church council meeting at 4. Didier is a talker, so I thought we'd be cutting it fine, but hey.
While waiting for lunch to appear my phone rang, a number I didn't know, but a personal mobile number. It was Andy, en route from Martinique to Lyon and in Bordeaux till Saturday. Could we meet up for lunch. Ah no, I was already with someone for lunch. But we could meet up for coffee perhaps at 3?
So after our lunch and our discussion I hauled poor Didier through the streets to his tram stop, then went off to meet up with Andy - his wife Kitty was also there. We talked about the group in Martinique, Andy's plan to train theologically, the group in Bordeaux, our families, the past, the future.
It was wonderful to see Andy and Kitty. I had to take a photo of them and have a big long hug to remember their presence.
Then at 3:30 I had to charge off and get the tram to the church council.
OK. Most days are not like that, but yesterday was.
I always try to remember the advice given to us by Derek Swann when talking about conducting funerals! He said that whatever happens, even if you turn up late, when you arrive make sure you have all the time in the world. Be aware that at the crematorium you may only have 20 minutes, but those 20 minutes must be 20 unhurried minutes, focused on the moment, not on the next task in 20 minutes' time.