Warning: Translating can lead to whiplash

Radiolab recently had a number of short stories they put together in an episode they called "Translation". In it there is a short story of a telephone translator. This is someone who sits in a room and waits for the phone to ring. When it does they answer it and begin to translate for the two people on the phone. For instance, if you call to book a hotel in France but don't speak French, there are people who will translate your conversation with the hotel and they to you. I have never heard of this service, but it makes sense. 

The story goes on and you hear of a translator who sat in a room, the phone rang and on the other end you heard a woman whisper that "he is going to kill me." You should really listen to this podcast to get the sense of the intensity of this moment but it does not end with any clarity. The intense phone call just ends. 

The translator, not sure if she just translated the last words of a woman who was murdered or the victim of a cruel prank, has to hang up the phone and wait for the next call to come in to continue translating, perhaps something as mundane as booking a hotel room. 

This is very similar to what many clergy go through every Sunday. Someone will tell you about the test result they got back and how life is going to be shorter than expected and then you turn around to hear someone overjoyed that their football team won the day before. Then you turn around to hear a man lost his job and a woman lost her marriage, then a kid runs up to you and shows you his handprint turtle and a teen shares she just landed the lead in the musical. 

I am sure this emotional whiplash is not limited to the calling of the clergy, you may experience this everyday as well. You may not. I can say this is another very big reason why clergy need to be rooted in spiritual disciplines, self reflection and humility. If not, this whiplash can break your neck and spirit. 

I have written about the face of God before, so this may be redundant to you, but one of the things that makes God different from humans is God's ability to see all the joy and pain in the world and not die.