"After not having written for three years, I should just show up?"
"Of course. Why not?" Elizabeth Taylor came to rest on a tiny tree branch, no more than a twig. Before we go any further, you should be aware that Miss Taylor is now a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. All hummingbirds are deceased movie stars.
"I just show up in their inboxes and expect to be welcomed back, no
questions asked? After all this time?"
"No, darling. Show up and expect nothing. Never expect. That way, you're never disappointed. And there are ALWAYS questions asked.
Answer them if you wish to, and ignore them if you don't."
Ten years had elapsed since I last had led a parish. Ten years of
writing and teaching and itinerant preaching. I took up the reins ten years older than when I last had held them, never dreaming that I wouldn't be the same multitasking dynamo I'd always been. Maybe the eMos would be a little less frequent, I told people. That's all.
But no. I threw myself with gusto into parish life, holding nothing back. It was good to live it all again, the church tapestry of joy and sorrow, interruption, surprise, common purpose, the snarl of competing opinion about what should be done and who should do it. But I was older now, and not as strong. I came home tired and slept as late as I could, thereby robbing myself of the early morning hours upon which my writing has always depended. The eMos stopped in their tracks, looked around in confusion, then fainted dead away. They've been out cold for almost three years.
"You don't imagine that people have been waiting for your return, do you? To pick up where you left off? Because they haven't. They have LIVES, dear. They've been living them."
And so have I. I knew when I began this parish that it would be my
last, and I decided to love it completely. I didn't understand what my
diminished strength would mean with regard to the other parts of my
life, but I got educated about that in a hurry. And now it is drawing
to a close.
"I think we're going to migrate early this year. It's already a bit
chilly in the mornings." Elizabeth left her twig to hover at the feeder
for a long drink. It's a diamond-shaped glass one that sparkles in the
sunlight. I got it just for her.
"I thought you might. I've had to fill the feeders every day. I'm really going to miss you."
"Oh, only briefly. You have a life, you know. You'll be busy living it."
I looked down at my teacup for a moment. When I looked up, Elizabeth was gone.
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