Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Coffee, donuts and draggin' Main with the Father

The other morning on our Friday a.m. weekly donut splurge-fest, we sat in a booth adjacent to a group of elderly gentlemen in their late-60's who were dipping cake donuts and drinking joe with the young priest from the local Catholic church.

The conversation centered on the adventures of youthful splendor growing up in our small town, including country road drag races with their Daddie's Fords, cruising to the smaller towns just up the highway to meet some "townie gals" from a different school, and after-game garage parties that always seem to run out of drinks before they ran out of steam.

Heck, we and everyone else in the fried round dough haven were even treated to a live demonstrations of the "beer bottle dip" practiced by the local 50's greasers whenever Officer Wilson would cruise by the park on a late summer weekend night.

The highlight of the conversation, for me at least, was listening to a few stories of the young 30-something Priest's eventful teenagedom life as he relayed stories of "draggin' Main" with his buddies in a beat up Camaro in the small town where he grew up.

Recently, I heard a report on NPR's "Fresh Air" program centered around Episcopalian minister Barbara Brown Taylor and her new book, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith, wherein she describes her decision to leave her job after 15 years as a full-time minister due in part to what she called "compassion fatigue."

Listen to program here.

Think about it.

Being an ordained and recognized spiritual leader in a small town means you are on stage, on-call 24-7-365, with your compassion and sensitivity on display with every casual conversation you have in line at WalMart, every meal you take at someones house, and every piece of fruit or roll of bathroom tissue you squeeze at the grocery store.

While in a larger "market" men and women of the cloth, pulpit, and collar can more-or-less (depending on the chosen faiths prescribed practices for public appearance attire) make their clandestine way outside of the church grounds completely incognito.

Not so in a small town, where their faces are more or less on par in recognition factor with the POTUS-elect and OU Coach Bob Stoops.

Given that pressure and the awareness that a term such as "compassion fatigue" exists, I hope all of the dedicated male and female spiritual leaders in our small town take few mornings a month to dip a donut or two and let the air out of their proverbial collars.

Wouldn't do to have any of our local religious leaders go postal, or pulpital, as it were.

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