A Season of Anxiety

Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

“And can any of you by worrying add even a single hour to your life span?” The words of Jesus in Matthew 6.

The fall of the year always caused me more than a little anxiety. A new school year, a new school sometimes, a new teacher, a new schedule. Transitions that involve the unfamiliar have never been easy for me. Perhaps that is one reason that I have continued in this call for the past 31 years. In the summertime, the days were long, warm, relaxed, and somewhat unscheduled. My mother, a Speech Therapist in the public schools, had summers mostly off. It was great to spend time with her as she chauffeured me around or as we worked together on home projects. The problem with summer was that it was followed by the uncertainty of fall. As the days of August slipped away, I would experience anxiety.

My mother, Barbara Lindus, was known to be a little anxious herself. She was afraid to fly, she did not like to travel in bad weather, and when I was heading to Europe after 9-11 she bought me a Canadian sweatshirt. She said, “wear this; no one hates the Canadians.” I remember the summer of 1970; I would soon make the big transition from the Elementary School to the Middle School. I was not sleeping well, I was nervous, I dreaded the thought of a seemingly massive building filled with older kids. I was also quite sure that I would have a hard time academically.

Taking a page from the playbook of June Cleaver, my mother took me to the local Dairy Queen and we got ice cream. Sitting outside we talked about my anxiety. She was warm, patient, and understanding; if anyone knew anxiety, it was my mom. Then she said something that has stayed with me all these years. She said, “Jim, do you know what all those kids in High School have in common?” I shook my head and took a bite of ice cream. “Do you know what your cousins, aunts and uncles, and all of the adults that you see have in common?” She probably thought that I was not listening, but I was. “They all made it through Middle School. They were all nervous once, but they all made it through. In fact, everyone makes it through.”

I have thought of that simple conversation so many times throughout the years. Every transition led me back to that conversation, as I would put a new spin on the concept. “You know what all of the preachers in all of those churches have in common? They made it through Greek. Do you know that most everyone has to have their wisdom teeth out? A colonoscopy? Everyone has to have one sooner or later.”

We are moving into fall, a fall season like none that we have experienced. The weather will change, the days will get shorter, the politics will get uglier, the economy is shaky, the country seems more divided than ever, and this Covid-19 is wreaking havoc on students, parents and teachers. I have witnessed the increasing anxiety of people in our parish and community. People are tired, weak, and worn. We are on edge, not sleeping, not traveling, not sure of what is coming our way next in 2020.

My fall anxiety could get the best of me! That is when I travel back to 1970; I am sitting with the woman who gave birth to me, and she tells me to have courage. “Jim, every generation of Americans have faced similar days. Every land and race have experienced pandemics, political turmoil and financial downturns. They all made it through the hard times and so will you.”

You look lovely today, Mrs. Cleaver.

One day closer!

Pastor Jim