Preaching three times on Sunday morning is mentally and physically taxing. By the time I arrive home, I wonder if my brain is mush or spaghetti. Fortunately, Cathy has lunch pretty much ready to go after my quick change of clothes. My custom is to eat, finish the Sunday paper and head to a nap.
It's almost never exciting when the phone rings right after lunch and Cathy says it's for me. My brain screams for the release of a dream and my head wants to shake "no" when I put the communication gadget to my ear.
"Sam, this is someone you haven't spoken to in a long time." As I hear the words, the voice is already sounding familiar. It belongs to a man who used to attend our church many years ago. I haven't actually seen him since my grown kids were in high school. We have spoken on the phone a few times since then. Each of those occurrences left me thinking that the man is buried in his problems and will probably never get better.
"Hi," I reply, "how can I help you?" I know my voice is tense. I don't want to be bothered and I'm sure he can tell. I feel guilty, but it is inconvenient. (I'd rather not admit that attitude.) Besides, the last time or two we talked, I'm not even sure the guy was sober.
"I'm actually getting my life together," he said. "I am being treated for PTSD because of Viet Nam and I'm better than I have been in many, many years. I have been giving it some thought and I can think of two people right now that I need to reconcile with. You're one of them."
A voice from the past. I relax, grateful for this turn in the conversation. I tell him truthfully that he owes me no apology. I invite him back to church because he says he has tried a few and wants to attend again. He seems relieved, promises to see me and says goodbye.
I have had to make many similar calls over the years. They have left me feeling joyful and relieved. I hope it did the same for him.