Peggy Haymes photo smallIt is 8:30 a.m., and I have already finished my first session of the day. I would rather see someone at 7:30 in the morning than 7:30 in the evening, so I can’t complain. Except I always do when I’m leaving the house.

Today is a rare day today–no more clients on the schedule, but that doesn’t mean I’m taking it easy. I have a call to return about a referral. There are the endless notes to be filed and billing to be done. Billing has special priority since it is the critical factor in whether or not I get paid. Such factors tend to focus one’s attention.

But for the rest of the day I’ll mainly be wearing my writer/publisher hat. A new book that’s been long in coming is almost here, and I feel the hot breath of deadlines on my neck. Today I have to get files sent so that advance copies can be printed. It’s a bit of a rocky ride because I’m at the stage of production in which I swing wildly from “This is the best work I have ever done” to “What was I thinking? People are going to be so embarrassed for me and will whisper sadly about it behind my back.”

Still, I have to take the risk. Writing is in my blood. Writing always feels like coming back home. As a teenager I was writing prayers for our church’s worship services. I was also editing the transcriptions of my pastor’s sermons before they were printed for distribution. I have to come to understand that not every teenager was doing this.

But today I am glad to have a day that’s a bit more fluid. I was gone all weekend leading a women’s retreat for our church, a weekend full of laughter and tears and connecting. I have finally learned that the best thing I can do on such retreats is to offer a bit of wisdom and then get out of the way, letting them talk with each other about what I have said and what they have lived and where God may be in the midst of it.

Because every group in the state that can possibly meet wants to meet in March, this Friday I’ll travel to the state Baptist women in ministry meeting and then the following weekend staff a three-day Life, Loss and Healing workshop. The workshop grew out of the work of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and gives people a chance to do focused work grieving all kinds of losses. Through the years we have found that it helps to have me, the minister, on staff. People have questions about God’s place in their pain. And sometimes well meaning Christians have told them things that need to be questioned.  (Another flower for God’s garden? Really?) The fact that I have an M.Div. in my back pocket gives my words a bit more credibility in such matters than the other therapists on staff.

Recently I came across Marci Alboher’s book, One Person/ Multiple Careers: The original guide to the slash career, and suddenly my work made sense. I have never been content doing just one thing. I have never been able to stay on just one path. I have never known how to answer the question of, “What do you do?” Or at least, not a concise, just one job answer.

Not long ago there was another question I did not know how to answer. Someone asked me if I thought I’d ever go back into ministry.

I didn’t have an answer because I was not aware that I’d ever left.

Peggy Haymes is a writer/Licensed Professional Counselor/publisher/preacher and yes, minister, living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she is a member of Knollwood Baptist Church.