When I find myself in a bad mood it is usually because I have worked myself into it. You know what I’m talking about: everything starts out okay and then something sets you off and it is downhill from there. A good night's sleep usually fixes the situation—or at least my mood. Well yesterday was a little different. I woke up in a bad mood, and by noon—after kids avoiding what they say they would do, car trouble, malfunctioning equipment at the church, the usual money/bill/expenses concerns and feeling pulled in to many different directions—I found myself in a really foul mood.
At this point I was on my way to visit a colleague in the hospital and tried to pray on that and let the other stuff go with a modicum of success. I arrived at the hospital to find my friend not doing well at all and in fact in quite bad shape. After spending some time with his family I decided to visit a friend at his home who had some chest pain on Friday to find out that he was still in the hospital. This was much to my surprise and I suspect his as well. So off to another hospital by way of Albany Avenue through The North End.
This visit went much better; he, his young adult sons, and I had a great time laughing, making fun of each other, and quite simply enjoying spending some time together, even if it was in a hospital room. You know what they say, "laughter is the best medicine," although maybe not so loudly on the cardiac unit. At some point during the visit I was recounting my morning and the mood it had put me in. I then reflected (out loud) on the juxtaposition of my "woes" with what I had seen and experienced at two different hospitals and a drive through The North End. My stuff was sounding pretty petty and trivial by this point—and I said so. One of the boys suggested that I had driven what we dubbed the "reality or perspective lap" in my car.
I have always found the saying "count your blessings" a little trite and at times dismissive, but you know what, it can be a very powerful thing. I am blessed with a loving family, rewarding work that I enjoy—great friends, good health, and a deep knowledge that I am loved by God.
Sure, it would be nice to have everyone do what they say they are going to do when they say they are going to do it. Good luck with that; welcome to humanity. Wouldn’t it be nice for everything to work as it is supposed to and to not have to worry about the bills? Yes, but all and all I have it quite good. The world is a broken place full of broken people, of which I am one and wouldn't have it any other way.
I will pray for my friends and their families and the guy on the corner of Albany Ave. and Garden St. in the knowledge that no matter how they feel or are doing they are loved by God. I might even try to catch myself a little earlier when I feel my mood going south…
…but probably not.
The Rev. Bob Hooper is the rector of St. James’s Episcopal Church. He blogs for St. James’s every Tuesday, reflecting on the community, parish life and (being Rector) anything else he likes.