Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mortimer the pig farmer - in Memoriam

way back in the day i was the intern pastor at a small rural church for the summer of 1988. it was the summer before my 4th year at Bible College. i was sent to this small church to learn from a pastor to see what church life really is. it was a time when i would've liked to have worked in the church after leaving school, perhaps doing missions, maybe doing youth work ... i actually didn't know what direction i would go. i was put in a small office that doubled as a library and storage space at the front of the church, right next to the organ in the sanctuary. i would only work half days in the church and i'd go work as a hired hand at the pig farm of the Chairman of the Board at the church.

i used to love to tell the children's story to the kids before they shuffled off to Children's church while the rest of us endured the sermon on a Sunday morning. i would do my best to try and take spiritual concepts and bring them down in understanding so that the smallest of the little ones could understand that God loved them. one Sunday morning i told the story of Mortimer the pig farm owner and the handsome young hired hand that he had working for him. it was a lesson on looking out for one another and it was a thinly veiled story to poke a little fun at the chairman of the board and the beautiful friendship that was developing between us. i don't believe the kids got who it was that i was talking about but they weren't supposed to anyway, i was trying to speak to the adults while i was expressing a spiritual truth to the kids at the same time.

my good friend Glenn, the Chairman of the Board, Mortimer the pig farm owner passed away last week. we sent word to his wife of our love for Glenn and just how much i will truly miss the man. that summer was torturous. the pastor i was supposed to learn from was removed from his job amid a huge cloud of controversy and i was left under the good care of the church board in general, and the chairman of the board specifically. Glenn was a bright light who heard me in my struggles and easily forgave the sins of youth in me. he encouraged a kid who worked on a farm for the first real time of his life and he gave me room to find ways to belong in a space that was sorely wanting for direction and life. i watered trees, painted buildings, moved, fed and marked pigs in my own creative ways and all the while he just smiled and shook his head at just how different this kid was for this environment he had been trapped in. Glenn didn't really understand me but he was perfectly fine with the idea that he didn't have to. he just let me run with whatever it was that i am. he was the perfect foil for what i needed that summer and it was a summer that changed me in that i gained some freedom to be more than what i might've been otherwise.

i will miss you Mortimer. thank you and i'll see you again my friend.

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