Two journalists, two divergent paths

I recently returned from vacation, which was great. I saw three baseball games, toured the University of Notre Dame for the first time, visited my dad’s side of the family and made a brief visit to West Virginia, part of a path from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati.

But I want to focus here on an early part of the trip, where I drove to rural Ohio. There, a guy I interned at a newspaper with six years ago lives and works. He and I both worked in newspapers for a while, and neither of us does now. I’m still editing.

He was ordained a Lutheran minister last month.

I should pause here and note that one reason (of many, mind you) that he and I got along is that he and I were alike. We’re both religious, and many of our colleagues weren’t. I’m relatively conservative, and he’s relatively libertarian, neither of which is the norm in our old line of work. (There’s nothing wrong by that, by the way, as long as you’re conducting yourself with integrity.)

Anyway, our story, yes. To get to his house, I had to drive down some 1.5-lane roads and pray there was no oncoming traffic — “Just hope you’re not on the side with the ditch if you have to pull aside for another car,” he said. I got rerouted a few miles out of my way by construction and almost got lost, even though I had GPS on my cell phone. I was a little annoyed with rural Ohio when I pulled into his driveway. But that all melted away when I got out of the car and realized what I was standing amid:

I mean, it’s quite, quite rural.

Sweet.

He pastors two churches, and he let me play the organ on both:

Aerial view from the balcony at one of his churches.

“You could always move out here and play the organ here,” he teased. Yeah, that’s not happening.

As we caught up and ate at Big Boy and checked out his backyard and talked such mundane topics as politics and religion (it’s not that we necessarily agree, it’s that we can chat respectfully), it occurred to me that six years ago, neither of us could have predicted where we would be now. If you’d asked me where I thought I’d be this year, I would have said I would still be working in journalism, more specifically, in newspapers. For him, it’s likely the same.

But oh, have things have changed. I was “gently nudged” out of journalism; he jumped. He has gone full-fledged into his calling to become a minister, and I’ve upped my involvement in the Church. I still edit stuff that goes out across the country; he has to complain on Facebook about when the local newspaper misspells something. I spend a lot of time in the city and live in the ‘burbs; he lives on some beautiful farmland.

And, by the grace of the God who has a sense of humor and a knack for surprise, neither of us can complain about where we are now, even if the process of getting there wasn’t the easiest.

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