Yesterday was a day spent in pastoral care, with a home visit in the morning and a trip up to the University of Michigan Hospital in the afternoon. UofM is my least favorite hospital to visit because it is an ordeal to get there, find parking, and wind your way through the hallways to find the room. But my ordeal is small compared to what the patients there are facing, so I should be more patient about that myself. I want to do better in pastoral care for my parishioners so I have begun a five-book reading expedition this fall. The first is The Practice of Pastoral Care: A Postmodern Approach, by Carrie Doehring, a professor at Iliff School of Theology. Reading is like soft rain falling on the mind — you hope it soaks in and over time new things grow.
But in the middle of these brainy things, I am pondering a fleshy, narcissistic question: How much should I weigh? I weigh 181 pounds now (82 kg). In the last year my body mass has shrunk by 28 percent. The official charts and numbers say I am still overweight and need to lose a few more pounds. But I feel fine and healthy the way I am, and I have reached the size I want to be. Maybe I should simply pay attention now to how my clothes fit rather than to a number on a scale compared to a number on a chart. Recently I came across an obituary of Reubin Andres, a gerontologist, whose research led him to conclude that starting in our forties we should add six pounds per decade to our healthy weight range; he found that adding a little fat to your body from middle age onward increases longevity. The medical community has not endorsed this, but it sounds wise to me.
This morning I am looking out the window at blue sky and changing leaves. Sunlight makes me smile. I feel healthy and at peace. I love being a pastor, and I want to do well with my parishioners.