Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Journalist's Wife

Every year the newspaper where I used to work has a party somewhere for their employees and their families. This year, the party was at the Birch Aquarium and Ryan and I went as a guest of my husband, the journalist.

It is always so odd for me to walk back into that world and to feel so comfortable. But it's nice, too.

What I noticed this night, though, was that I had been away long enough that very few people wanted to talk to me about the newspaper or the newsroom or news stories. They wanted to talk to me about theology.

One wanted to talk about a book he had just read that took a scientific approach to the crucifixtion. (Hi David.) Another wanted to talk about some significant recent changes in life circumstances and the questions that raised for her children about the existence of God. Another wanted to talk about the nature of God, the history of Judaism, the effects of 9/11 on faith, how to explain the existence of evil in the world, particularly in the ways it hurts children. (His aunt is a longtime member of Claremont UMC, so that explains a lot about the depth and breadth of his questions.) One longtime colleague, who has always questioned the existence of God, started speaking with certainty about the existence of Spirit and I stepped quickly onto that common ground. And a dear friend, who had not been returning my phone calls, confided in me about some personal struggles that were not that different from some personal struggles I have faced this year. She called it shadow-boxing, and I thought it was a good metaphor. And my friend is really the Queen of Metaphors, and hearing another good one, just made me miss her more. We didn't so much talk about God as we abided with one another.

All in all, it was a good night of ministry.

And I committed some good journalism, too. This past week, when I should have been thinking about things theological, I had come up instead with an idea for a way to make a very labor-intensive public service the newspaper has wanted to do for years work in a much less labor-intensive way. So I went up to my old boss and told her about it and it was like old times. This is an idea that had been percolating between us for at least six years, and I got to continue the conversation in a meaningful way. And then we talked about a friend of hers who is facing some personal hard times and what a challenge it was to abide with her during the most intense parts of her struggle.

And several people asked me for prayers for the folks at the paper. They often did so in that joking tone: now that you're in ministry could you say a few prayers for us since the newsroom is facing some hard times. But when I told them I already had and will continue, I could see that there had been some earnestness in the requests.

I told a few that I had recently realized that one big difference between the newsroom and the church is that the newsroom doesn't have institutional prayer.

And so I pray for my friends and former colleagues that their work in the name of truth and justice always brings them a sense of satisfaction and that their concerns over the future of the newspaper and the news business can be replaced by that peace that passes understanding. And for that group of longtime and loyal journalists who are considering taking a buyout and retiring after more than 30 years of service, I pray God's blessing and presence in their lives in ways that make the newsroom a wonderful memory but their lives beyond the newsroom full of hope and contentment.

And I pray in thanksgiving for the two people who told me they would hire me back in a heartbeat, and I pray, too, that God will lead me in such a way that I can embrace their kind words as flattering but not ever need them to become reality.

Thanks be to God for the First Amendment, which protects both the freedom of the press and the freedom of religion.

And thanks be to God for ministry opportunites even where I do not seek them.

And thanks be to God for my journalist husband, whose gainful employment currently allows my not so gainful pursuits.

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