Last fall Travis and I traveled to St. Louis to his seminary alma mater for a series of meetings. Well, it was meetings for him, but they invited us both and paid, so who was I to turn down a free trip? The first night was a banquet for a large group of people, including my husband’s committee, to kick off a fundraising campaign. During the night, several speakers went up front, and at one point, the seminary president’s wife got up to introduce him. She talked about how she and our church body president’s wife would commiserate about being “widows” to the ministry. Their husbands, being particularly charismatic (in the personality sense, not theologically) men, would enter a crowd of people and just get drawn into chatting, talking, and schmoozing, leaving their wives in the dust. Boy, do I know what that is like!
Not that I mind. I would rather be a forgotten wallflower at major events than have to navigate through at my husband’s side, chatting with hoards of total strangers and otherwise feeling anxious and overwhelmed. He is in his element at events like the one that took place at our church on Friday night. You see, the town where our church is located is also the home to a fireworks manufacturing company, and the town holds their mega fireworks display on the 3rd of July to pre-empt other towns. Our church’s beautiful property (14 acres, some wooded, with a huge front lawn) is rather close to the area they shoot from, making it an ideal viewing spot. Apparently every year a couple hundred people gather to watch. So this year, we decided to make it into a planned event, with popcorn and lemonade (all free of charge) and advertised it in the newspaper.
Conservatively, there were 700 people who came. We figure that because we counted 340 cars in the parking lot and grass, and even figuring only two people per car… Many cars had families, so it may have been more than that. But it was quite the crowd.
I was content to hide behind the refreshments table and help out. Truth be told, I’ve been getting more anxious about dealing with people the older I get. It’s not something I’m proud of, but coming to a new church has helped me to be more aware of it. At our last church, I would just talk to the people I was comfortable with and ignore most of the rest. Not a good way of interacting, I’ll grant you, but it was easy enough to do. Now I’m forced into situations constantly where I’m talking to new people. Once I start, it’s not so scary, but the prospect is terrifying to me.
Anyway, back to Friday night. As I dove into making popcorn, Travis dove into the crowd. He carried snacks to the firemen stationed in our lot, struck up conversations with individuals and families, chatted with the pastor emeritus from our church, and buzzed around like a happy bee. It’s a gift of his, probably the reason his teachers in school told him he’d be a politician when he grew up. I realized during the fireworks that I was into the ministry widow mode when he sat down for about a minute next to me and then excused himself to finish a conversation with someone in his eye line. That’s the way it goes when you are married to the pastor. And I don’t mind – it gives me a lot of time to think, pray, and spend some time recharging my batteries that have been depleted by the crowds around me.