Monday morning was no better.
Before noon, Meningsbee succeeded in offending three well-meaning souls.
Coming back from the church service on Sunday in a growling mood, he had tossed and turned all night, failing to get enough sleep. So when he was awakened at 8:45 A. M. by the phone, he was barely able to eek out a respectable “hello.”
The call came from Pastor Mickey Jiles from the Pentecostal Assembly Church just down the road. Mickey explained that he had awakened “concerned for his brother” after the events of the past week, and wanted to let him know that “prayers were going forth” and “if he needed anything at all, just give a buzz.”
Meningsbee was in no mood for generosity. He managed a curt, “Thank you, but I’m fine,” and hung up–wondering if Pastor Jiles felt the conversation was over.
In the midst of Meningsbee trying to don his socks, there was a knock at the door. It was young Danny, the paper-boy, who came to collect for newspaper deliveries. Suddenly Meningsbee found himself in a squabble with the fine lad over a price hike that had come from the big city without asking Danny’s permission.
Meningsbee begrudgingly paid the extra money as he slammed the door.
Then, somewhere in the midst of a bite of burnt toast, the phone rang again and it was his good friend from Chicago, calling to see how he was doing and how the great experiment was coming along. Meningsbee lied and said he was on his way out the door and would call back later. The sweet old chum remained jovial, but sensed there was some difficulty.
Tuesday was not much better, and Wednesday threatened to get worse. By Thursday, Meningsbee felt it was best that he not interact with any human for fear that he would generate emotional devastation.
So when Sunday rolled around and it was time to go to the church, every “negative nagging ninnie” notion came to his mind as he drove to the sanctuary. He sat in his car, trying to get in a better mood.
The transformation was aided by the fact that there was a pretty good turnout. With his professional pastoral “car-counting ability,” he judged that most of the folks who last week made the benevolent journey to the other congregation had made their way back to the flock.
It should have put him in a good mood, but it didn’t.
So it was time to fall back on his training. How should a good pastor act?
He took three deep breaths, emerged from his car and proceeded into the building.
He forced a smile.
He portrayed himself as jovial.
He hugged a couple of children.
In so doing he became a little too loud, a bit boisterous, and although he had set a precedent for allowing the congregation to determine the tempo of the service, on this morning he stepped in to become the “leader of the worship.”
It was adequate. The average person sitting in the pew possibly didn’t sense anything different, but Meningsbee knew better. He had lost some innocence. What was once a passion for constructive change had now become a competition by a company man.
He was so angry. Or was it disappointment? Or was it a feeling that justice was not being provided?
He remained human just long enough to greet all those who came, and then, before the building was even emptied, he slipped away to his car, climbed in and sat for a moment, staring at the departing friends as tears filled his eyes.
It was a shitty day.
Yes, the word “shit” came from his lips.
Profanity had speckled his mind all week long, but had been held at bay by propriety.
Now it was unleashed.
What the hell was going on?