When you move into a new ministry position, in a small town you become somewhat like a celebrity. Everyone wants to meet you, bring you food, invite you over. The crazy busyness gets compounded ten-fold when you’ve got two extended families who are both supportive, loving and exceedingly curioius about what small rural towns are like. Then, throw a couple of kids who’ve been thrown out of their normal routine and you end up with sheer exhaustion. A mom and dad who would give anything to just crash. Stay in their jammies all day, let the kids watch tv and binge on Netflix (oh wait, no internet means no Netflix). This is where B and I found ourselves 2 weeks into our new adventure. Luckily, we were coming up on a Saturday with no visiting family scheduled and no church events. Sabbath!
Friday, after performing a funeral, unpacking, entertaining a curious visitor and we were getting close to that time of night where you know you’re sort of home free, there’s was only about an hour until bedtime and no one randomly stops by after dark unless it’s an emergency. I was on the phone with my parents, excitedly telling them about our free Saturday when at that exact moment there was a knock on the door…
B answers the door and I froze. (somewhere in the back of my mind I was thinking that if they can’t see me maybe they won’t come in). A minute later B comes back inside with the news that tomorrow was no longer a family lazy day but wood chopping day.
What??? In the city you buy pre-chopped wood at the grocery store for you fire pit on the patio, you don’t spend a Saturday chopping wood. Ugh, there goes lazy Saturday.
Bright and early someone pulls up in their pick-up (everyone owns a pick-up) and away B goes. We thought surely he’d be done by noon and at least we could salvage a partial lazy Saturday. But, noon comes and goes, I call his cell and no answer.
Another hour or so goes by and I call again and again and again. Then my paranoia takes over. Where is he? Did he get hurt in some freak wood chopping accident? Literally what house is he even at, I have no idea. What if he bled out? Is there a hospital near him? How long is the average ambulance response time? What if he’s hurt and they didn’t get to him in time? An axe head could’ve flown off and hit him in the head. Surely someone would call me if he was hurt. Wait, I’m new, no one has my cell number. What if they’re too busy trying to get him help to tell me! If he dies where will we live? We’re living in a parsonage right now, we nothing but glorified squatters. I’m going to have to be that widow who tells people my husband died in a wood chopping accident, everyone will either think I’m joking or that my late husband was an idiot. He better not die and leave me to raise to highly energetic boys on my own!
The cycle of freaking out continued until about 6 pm when, thank heaven, the old pick up pulled up in front of our house and a dirt covered B got out of the car. He literally looked like pig pen walking up to the house with clouds of dirt billowing off with each step he took. Apparently there was no cell phone service out on the ranch where they’d been and he hadn’t even considered asking if they had a land line (who uses those anymore).
Oh wood chopping, apparently there are still people who actually need wood to heat their homes not just to roast marshmallows in the back yard or create a picturesque Christmas. And, apparently wood chopping isn’t done with an axe anymore…gas powered chain saws. I don’t know if I’m relieved or more freaked out now, I guess we’ll see next year on wood chopping Saturday, not to be confused with lazy Saturday.
The sweet part of all this was that the younger men of the church knew that one of the 90 year old members had no family around and needed the wood to heat his house. The church became his family, he and his wife would be warm and taken care of all winter because their adopted family would spend a Saturday every year chopping enough wood to heat their home. Community, real community comes together to chop wood.