Just the other day I saw a byline on my blog, which reads, simply, that I am a "Lutheran pastor in Texas." I am struck by this odd fact. Until last year, I was a "Lutheran pastor in Minnesota," which was a description I could understand. Now I am a "Lutheran pastor in Texas" which seems to me on some days like saying "an orangutan in the arctic". There are other Lutheran pastors, but we are not all that common.
Anyway, it feels odd to me, as if being in Texas is my one claim to fame. Perhaps it is. Right now I am wondering what else I would like to put in a byline. "Lutheran pastor who lives with her dog Scout, in Texas" is one possible byline. Scout helps me in my ministry by giving me places to go, and things to talk about with strangers. Because of her, I have been going to a local dog park on occasion. We go for an hour late in the afternoon, where I admire Scout and all the other dogs, and where I watch Scout go from person to person, soliciting pets. I have brief conversations with strangers, mostly about dogs and places to go shopping. It is what it is.
Just the other day I was walking with Scout in the parking lot of my apartment. A woman spotted us and came up to meet us. She thought my dog was pretty. Scout decided to play hard to get, but we struck up a conversation anyway. She has lived here four years, she said, and she likes it. I have lived here just over six months. She asked me if I ever went to the dog park. I said yes. Perhaps we would run into each other there. I told her my dog would be instant friends with her if they met at the dog park. I told her I was pastor at a Lutheran Church in town. She did not ask what a Lutheran was. She told me she went to a small anglo-Catholic community in Cypress. She is very committed to her church. She drives an hour to get there. She cooks for them, she said.
"Lutheran pastor who lives with her dog, in Texas." I suppose that could be my byline, my claim to fame. I wonder what else I could use. "Lutheran pastor who writes haiku prayers" (something I used to do), or "Lutheran pastor who is not very good at directions, but who is finding her way around a very small area of Texas." Or maybe it should be "Lutheran pastor who is finding herself, somehow, living with her dog, in a very small area of Texas."
That's who I am, for now. It is not what I will be, but that is true for all of us. We are strangers in a strange land, with bylines that suit, or don't quite suit us. "Lutheran pastor in Texas" is not all that there is, but it will do for now.