Settling in

I’ve been trying to think of what to write in this initial post, my first after moving to Naples, FL for a yearlong internship.  Should I tell you about the gorgeous landscape?  The oppressive heat?  The incredible variety of birds?  The dolphins I saw (eee!)?  How my congregation made me hula on my first Sunday?  Or how my supervisor likes to hide rubber snakes in my office?  The variety of choices to comment on was overwhelming!

But then this afternoon happened, and it sort of seemed to encapsulate everything that this first two weeks has been.  Here goes:

1) My supervisor came over for Lawn Day.  We have designated Monday as Lawn Day.  It is a day of lawn, wherein I mow the grass and he trims the hedges, presumably because I cannot be trusted with a chainsaw.  It was swelteringly hot.  So I sweltered and mowed.  And in the meantime, my dog frolicked, as is his wont.

2) I checked on the location of the dog every few swathes, and generally he was located in the shade somewhere.  But suddenly it occurs to me that I haven’t seen him for a few minutes.  So I look up, not a little concerned, and see Tom gesturing at me (with an arm, not the chainsaw).  He pointed to his vicinity of the lawn, which was the other side of a picket fence and hedge.  I pushed the mower closer.  And there, chest-deep in the water, is my beloved pooch in the drainage ditch, happy as a clam in really questionable water.  Tom told me later that Barnaby, the dog who undergoes baths only under incredible duress, had actually been laying down in the water, with only his tilted head sticking out, laughing as only a dog with a Bernese’s good humor and a German Shepherd’s sense of the mischievous can laugh.

3) Barnaby later helped weed behind my bordering bushes.  It is quite easy to have him do this.  Simply drop a stick back there.  He will then paw joyfully at it, uprooting absolutely anything growing with the possible exception of large trees and shrubs, and even then, expect to be missing some low-hanging branches when he’s done.  While Barnaby weeded, occasionally showering us with a spray of sandy soil, Tom told me about the turnaround he experienced at his second congregation in Jacksonville.  “These,” I thought to myself as he spun the story of recovering a stained glass window for his congregation, “are the stories I want to hear about ministry.”  (I’m accustomed to first-call horror stories, which are fascinatingly macabre, but not exactly uplifting.)  It was like those final moments of A League of Their Own, where the women all break into their theme song, and you look back on all the images of them playing baseball and getting bruises but really and actually performing miracles.  I kept expecting a swell of inspirational music, led by cellos.  Instead, Barnaby just dropped a drool-covered dirt stick in front of Tom and looked at him expectantly.

And those are my days so far.  Learning about ministry, enjoying my supervisor, and laughing at my dog.  🙂

The beach ain’t so bad, either.

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