Tuesday, July 12, 2011

the wisdom of women

today's reading:  Matthew 11: 20-24



There seems to be a wee bit of frustration in our Lord's tone in today's reading! Hardly surprising really - the places he's put the most work into seem to be yielding the lowest results. I'm sure most people can identify - we all have something that gets to us.

Take yesterday evening for example. My wife had popped out & I was getting one of the kids ready for bed. The phone rang. I should have left it, but like a lot of people I find it hard to ignore. And I always worry that that it might be something important - surely no one would ring in the evening unless it was something pressing? So I answered it.

The person on the end of the line was a stranger to me. They began the conversation by saying that they hoped it wasn't a bad time, but who knew what was a good time for a clergy person, and then went straight into their request. Of course, it was nothing urgent. I dealt with their question & went back to my task, but my heart was grumbling within me. Partly because I hadn't let the answering machine take the call. And partly because of the implication that if it was a bad time I had no one but myself to blame.

I shared my grumbles with my wife when she got in. There is clearly a reason why Wisdom is depicted as a woman in the Bible because she was having none of it.

-It is up to you to let people know when to call, she said. And of course she's right. If you don't say to people to please keep non-urgent matters to normal office hours then you can't complain if they don't.

It is, of course, a delicate issue. On the one hand, you don't want people to be put off calling you when they genuinely need to talk to you. On the other, you trust that people will use their common sense when it comes to things that are not in any way urgent. Everybody needs some down time. Not to mention the fact that having a clergy person as a spouse or parent is tough enough without there being the general impression that family time will always take a lower priority than even the most trivial piece of business with even the vaguest church connection.

I went into my office and changed the message on my phone. I politely said that if this was a routine matter then I would get back to them during office hours the next working day; but that if it was a pastoral emergency I would deal with the matter as soon as I received the message. I also changed the ringer on the phone to 3 rings instead of 8!

Later, we settled down with a couple of the older boys to watch a movie. About 9.40 the phone rang. I started to move. My wife looked at me. I sank back down into the couch. A few minutes later I muttered something about a tea break, paused the DVD, & slunk into my office to check the machine. Surely it was something urgent if someone was calling that late? So urgent that they hadn't even left a message.

Wisdom is indeed a woman.

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