I had taken the afternoon off work, in part to manage hours and in part to help out with the cooking for the annual Murfreesboro District United Methodist clergy dinner. Andy Borders had told me to show up about 1; I actually got there at 12:40, but Andy and the few others there at that time had gone out to lunch, and so I didn’t start work until they got back at the appointed time.
At 6:30, with the meal and most of dessert having been served and with a lot of people on hand tripping over each other in the kitchen, I ended up slipping out and heading on home. I wasn’t sure how long we were going to have to stay for cleanup. I didn’t tell anyone I was leaving, but part of the reason decided to leave was that there was a good crew there and I didn’t think my absence would be noticed.
Anyway, I’d e-mailed Rev. Nan Zoller, for whom I’ve filled in a few times at Concord UMC, and told her to stop by the kitchen and say hello, and she did that – after I’d slipped out. Clare Doyle passed this information on to me.
Yes, Clare Doyle was in the kitchen. As a pastor’s spouse, she should, by all rights, have been out in the fellowship hall enjoying herself with the other pastors and their wives and husbands. We tried several times during the afternoon to convince her that she needed to do that, but to no avail. Rev. Lloyd Doyle (who had also tried to convince her to stop and enjoy herself) was out playing the congenial host while Clare was back with us dishing up plates of food.
I got the chance to observe a pretty amazing pastor’s wife by the name of Carrie Carney through almost 40 years of my parents’ shared ministry. I know how demanding that position can be. If anyone in the building tonight deserved to be sitting down at a table relaxing and fellowshipping, it was Clare Doyle. And yet, Clare thought her place was back in the kitchen helping us cook.
She was wrong, of course, but we love her for it.
And now I feel even worse about slipping out early.