Ruth’s Big Do, Nerves and Warmer Days.

There is this little Italian restaurant Tress and I like. It’s as the crow flies from our home, perhaps closer. It makes really fresh pasta and pizza and we’ve been going to this joint regularly in recent years, so that when I ring to make a reservation, they recognize my voice and respond in a truly warm and friendly manner. To borrow a phrase from the classic sitcom that I loved, it’s a place where “everybody knows your name”.

After a lovely Friday night dinner at our “Cheers”, we went home and I started prepping for a cook. We were going to trek across Melbourne to get to the Macedon area northwest of Melbourne, the next day. It was Ruth’s 40th and Jonathan had been planning the event for some time.

The next morning, we got up early. We had a quick brekky, but I made sure we made our coffee as per usual on weekend mornings. I then did the sauce that was to go with the “sambal eggs”, and Tress boiled the eggs. The dish was ready just around 9am. I also had to pick up the mower from “Forest Hill Mower Power”, so I ducked out quickly and the mower looked and felt brand new. New blades, cleaned and serviced engine, new plug and filter and lubricated parts … I was confident the $150 would mean I’d easily get another 3 if not 5 more years out of the 12 year old machine yet. I took the mower back, kept it in the shed, and tidied up the kitchen before cleaning up. We finally left home just after 10am. When we were near Woodend just before noon, I felt a pressing need for another coffee so we ducked into town, got a coffee to go, and then got to Jonathan and Ruth’s home. To our pleasant surprise, there were a number of cars outside their home, which meant the party was going to be wonderful for Ruth.

We left Woodend just before 3pm, and got home in time to walk the little fellow. Later that night, one of the subsidiary channels of the Nine Network had The “Phantom Menace” on. It was the first of a planned screening of the entire Star Wars franchise for the next few weeks so I sat down to watch it, as the thought of my task at St Alf the next day, played in my mind.

On Sunday morning, the nerves got up several notches. I was asked by Graeme Churchward a couple of months prior, if I would like to do the congregational prayers. I hadn’t turned down any request to serve before, so I said yes. I was put on the roster on an ad hoc basis – Graeme thought, wisely, that the first should be a “dipping the toe in the water” type of experience. He was rostered for 6 Oct and I was asked to do it in his place, to test it out. I had written out the prayers earlier in the week but while I had expected to be nervous, I hadn’t expected it to reach that level.

As I walked into the church hall, Ruth McIntosh, the service leader for that morning, looked up and saw me. She walked up to me, and in giving me some instructions on what to do, drove up my nerves even more. Ruth had been encouraging in any event, and she continued to do so after those instructions. As I sat in our usual seat awaiting the moment, I told myself to focus on the task and not worry about anything else. I said those 3+ pages of prayers, sat down, and listened to the reader on the text for the sermon. It was only when Jordan Hitchcock was near the end of his sermon that the nerves/adrenalin finally ebbed and I felt normal again. The “ordeal” had lasted nearly an hour…

It was the first time in our nearly 7 years at St Alf’s that I had to perform a public task in a solo capacity. I had done this many times prior, at ICC and at Klang Chinese Methodist Church but those were many years ago. It had been easily 8 years since I last performed a task like that. It had to be a divine intervention to see me go through that, and I was very glad it is behind me now. Graeme may or may not ask me to be rostered again, that doesn’t matter at this point in time. I guess I would still not turn down any request to serve, as long as I’m able to.

After St Alf’s we had lunch at our usual lunch place, went home, and I did the week’s cook while Tress went out for her ethereal chase. I also cooked something for the little guy, and when Tress came back, we took the little fellow out for a walk. With all of the tasks for the weekend completed, I was at ease at last. It had been a warm day, and as Tress and I walked the little guy past the ovals with cricket games going on in each of the 3 ovals, it felt like a really pleasant time. It is still only early spring but it also felt like summer is not far away now.