Five Months From Now, Outside the Whirlwind
It's crazy to start thinking about the summer already but of course one must if one doesn't want to get booked into a thousand little commitments that eat time that should be largely devoted to rest and renewal.
Last summer I thought I wasn't making big commitments by agreeing to preach two Sunday services in neighboring churches and an ordination out of town, lead a workshop at a local seminary and take a summer intensive at said seminary. I thought writing one paper wouldn't be a big deal. Yo ho ho.
This year by July 1st I will have buried an uncle, started serious coursework for my D.Min., joined a new music group(we're recording a CD this weekend), traveled to Lousiana, turned 40, organized a concert, traveled to Spain, taught a semester-long seminary course (!), led a GA workshop for my district, and been a full-time parish minister for a vibrant and growing congregation. I tell you, I have said a pleasant "NO THANKS" to every request to teach, preach, preside, and travel this summer. I want to do nothing but visit with friends and family, do serious hammock time, and read.
My housesitter took this photo of the parsonage while I was away. I think to myself, "These are the good years. This is home. Finally."
I deeply believe that every minister serves at the pleasure of the congregation, and sometimes its whim, and should never entirely relax or make assumptions of job security. But for now... for now... I believe I am home.
It may be that I am looking at June/July of 2006 as a time to finally relax the hyper vigilance and extreme productivity of the past five or so years. Why? Because while it may be exciting to live at this pace, it's probably not spiritually healthy. I know this because even as I keep the summer calendar open, I find myself developing slightly manic home improvement obsessions for the summer.
I don't *really* need to re-do the living room. I don't *really* need to do more than my usual slapdash gardening. I don't *really* need to organize all my books alphabetically.
What I *really* need to do is learn how to listen to the early mornings, learn to live with myself outside of the busy, buzzy constant affirmations of the church and seminary beehive, and to confront the silence of my own soul.
It's only February 1st but I'm craving it with all my heart, even knowing how lonesome and hard it will be at times to just stop and step outside the whirlwind.
I am praying tonight for two colleagues who are on sabbatical in India. One went without plan, map or itinerary! Brave or crazy!