The past week has been exciting. Pressure to get Tidings ready for publication and distribution. Saying goodbye to Ginny Sheay for the summer and beginning my solo season at Trinity. Dealing with the press of events stacking up, of papers accumulating, of tasks needing to be addressed...and not having the distractions of Easter, or Institution, or Pentecost to lure me from my desk-work. Now is the time to dig deep into parish life and roll up my sleeves for some serious parochial administration.
It helps that it is raining and cold outside. Makes it easier to stay in to work.
Getting back into the swing after a retreat is always a challenge. Not that I felt particularly rested after my time away. I am beginning to realize, after years of priesthood, that retreats are not vacation...and vacations are not retreats. Sounds like an argument over semantics, but it is one I am beginning to experience as a vital difference in my own ability to engage in self-care.
Retreats are periods of time set aside to work on what you need to be aware of in life when you return to it. Vacations are seasons when you are able to step away and truly release and rest.
A vacation can be experienced on a beach, preferably with an umbrella drink in your hand...or in the mountains on a first time ascent of El Capitan; but they should be about you going away and taking a true break from the cares and concerns of the daily routines of work and home life. Do them with friends, do them with family, do them alone. Vacations are opportunities to vacate.
Retreats are entities with a fuzzier and less defined nature. They are times of withdrawal and contemplation, to be sure...but they are also times to do some serious stock-taking in the interior warehouse of the imagination. How do I relate to what I am doing? Is this the right path? What do I need to pay attention to that I have been ignoring for too long? Why do I feel distracted in my work? When I get back, what will I take with me in terms of self-discovery that will invigorate my work, my life, my relationships upon "re-entry and touch down?"
So, clearly, I have been on retreat. And I return now to take a cold plunge into parish life.
We are getting ready for the end of the program year. Another push. Now come Sundays of recognition and comission, of farewell and welcome. We have to try to squeeze in as much as possible before the bell rings, almost literally, in conclusion of the regular cycle of worship and program that exists here at Trinity for the balance of the year. Now, we get ready to move into summer...but we still have to summit a series of peak experiences in the year to get to that time of rest and re-creation.
Lobsterfest, Christian Education/ors Recognition Sunday, Mission Philadelphia, Guatemala Mission Trip departures....and then June is nearly over. In fact, I think, July will have begun. We will move to two services. Liturgies will experience a slight thinning in attendance, and the lazier days of the heavy greens of summer will root in our thoughts....and the question will be asked....Now that vacation season is here, how do we observe that getting away time faithfully?