I find myself at that awkward age between not-yet-dead and too-old-to-sleep-in. 3:00 AM, this morning. Lying in bed with a fan balanced on the bed beside me, a white-noise machine hissing on the floor, mosquitos gnawing on my hands if they are wanton enough to slip out from under the sheet.
I’m wide-awake. Nothing hurts. I’ve avoided the pains and aches so common to those who played football or fought in wars. I did neither although I have not had a life exempt from physical exertion.
Yet here I am, awake in Port-au-Prince, roosters prodding each other to conquer my little white-noise machine. The dog outside routes among the shrubs. The dog whose name no one knows. They call him “dog” which wouldn’t last long were he mine. “Junior” I’d call him; a big lug of a dog with a puppy’s exuberance.
The mosquitos might carry dengue or malaria. The roof might cave in on me in an earthquake. My freezer back home has been without electricity for nearly a week and might have become a science experiment of a bacteria bacchanal. The upcoming bathroom project has me wondering if I have any plywood in the shed that I can rip to lay the tile off of. Although I’ve never had dengue I understand it makes you wish you were dead. But I’m not yet at that age. I just can’t sleep-in.
Then I remember why I’m awake. I fly home today. It’s been ten days out. It’ll be two days home, then on to Mexico. Yvonne will pick me up at 1:00AM after she arrives at 11:00PM from Tampa where she’s been grand-mothering.
Half of the church sat in back last Sunday. I don’t understand it. It’s not like school where you have to be there so you show your disinterest by sitting in the back row. Nor is it like the school bus where the biggest boys sit in the back row. It’s church, you don’t have to come. No one is making you be here. Why come and sit in back? Just stay home. Or sit up front. I don’t see this sit-in-back model in the New Testament. I should have plugged in the little mosquito-repellent machine. Mosquitos make me ornery. I don’t see orneriness in the New Testament either. Blessed are the ornery for they shall inherit the back row.
Actually, now that I think about it and turn so the fan hits my face, I used to sit in the back row. It’s comfortable there. I didn’t mean anything by it…it just didn’t seem as group-like. It was, like, I could keep my identity in the back that might get lost if I sat in the middle. It didn’t occur to me to sit down front. For the same reason I never thought I’d like cruises, too many people sitting in the middle.
I forgive you, back-row sitters. No, better than that, I join you in your ultimate pews. In fact, from now on I promise to always preach from the back, just to show my solidarity with you. And I shall issue an edict, which is one of the prerogatives I feel newly empowered to pursue, to wit: From now on all our houses of worship shall have no middle pews, only front pews and back pews. And we shall rent out the back ones because they are to be highly desired above all things.
4:00AM Time to get up and make coffee.