The view from my desk has improved dramatically. No, they still don't let me sit near a window. I'm too easily enthralled by nature's daily dance -- whether sun-drenched, rain-swept, or covered in a thick layer of God's pristine white -- that I would never get each day's myriad tasks completed in time for the press run if they did.
And, even though I am very appreciative of the recent paint job, the cleaned out cabinets, closets and shelves, that isn't the view I have in mind. I've been at the same desk for more than 10 years now, and directly across from my computer screen is the back of my editor, Bruce Crosby's, computer screen, and for six long weeks, plus two days, that was all that was visible from my position.
Two weeks ago today, on the other side of my screen, preceded by a metallic clatter and clank, Bruce returned to his rightful place, left leg appropriately elevated, to take back the helm of the Good Ship Gazette. Praise the Lord!
I'm still reporting early each morning, he's not exactly fleet of feet yet, in fact his presence will be preceded by the aforementioned metallic clatter and clank for at least another six weeks, so he won't be sneaking up on anyone anytime soon, but the boss is back!
During those six weeks and two days, the newsroom staff stepped up to the plate and to a man, hit a home run every time they came up to bat. (If these were actual stats, rather than metaphoric stats, we'd definitely be in the running for the World Series.)
Teams are not unique to the human experience. Nearly every species bands together in varying degrees, it's a matter of survival. We are, after all, the product of the same Creator, but he has made man "a little lower than the angels" as we are told in Psalm 8:5.
The first week of Bruce's absence was an eye-opening experience for me. This was the first time he had been gone without a return date firmly in place and no one knew when he would be back. It was, to say the least, a week of discovery. Years ago, I'm told, when Jack Rogers was at the helm of the Good Ship Gazette, he'd stand at his desk, carefully perusing each day's mail delivery, completing the distribution process. Some items were destined for the local desk, the city desk, the sports desk or the feature desk. Some were destined for "File 13." In any case, it was a long, time-consuming process. Now, virtually all of that mail comes via the computer, but it still must be carefully sorted and distributed, and remains a long, time-consuming practice. And that was only the beginning of my discoveries.
In any team, no matter how large or small the team is, when a new member arrives, or a longtime member is suddenly absent, the entire team undergoes a change. Sometimes, the changes are dramatic. At other times, they are barely perceptible, but present nonetheless.
I don't know if Bruce has noticed any changes made during his absence, I haven't asked. But things have certainly changed for me.
I gained a new appreciation for my old job and my old beat, which was seriously neglected during his absence. I gained new respect for the job he does so effortlessly and was more than willing to relinquish the reins when he returned. I prefer the role of "right-hand man" to that of a leader.
And I discovered that the thing I missed most while he was gone was our morning debate. Over the 10+ years that I've served as associate editor, as the world around us has revolved, evolved and devolved, Bruce and I have discussed the intricacies of politics, governance, religion and family life. My co-workers are happy to have the radio back on. I'm happy to have my debate partner back.
Nothing in life is certain, as the old saying goes, except death and taxes. Given this most recent experience, I would have to add one thing to that old maxim. Nothing in life is certain, except death, taxes and change. Change, it turns out, is inevitable in the human experience.
Thankfully, there is one constant, one safe refuge in a sea of change. Every day, fair weather or foul, regardless of the other challenges faced in my day, God was sovereign. The One who has promised to go before us and to serve as our rear guard in Isaiah 58:8, the One who keeps track of our coming and our going in Psalm 139:3, was never absent, never surprised, never unsettled by the winds of change.
"Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever." Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know and love the One who does. Let's walk in his love and discover him together.