Sunday, September 02, 2007

Wiped Out...

Today, even though there were only two services, left me wiped out. I must be tired.

Next week, we will move to three Sunday services, and that means a different kind of tired-sort of a light afternoon lag with a slight bit of cranky that goes away after a catnap. Right now, I think that the past month is catching up with me. Labor Day hasn't come a day too soon. L and I have decided to take the day of rest seriously and do as little as possible. Amen.

Reflecting back on the past couple of weeks, I am acutely aware just how affecting parish ministry can be from time to time. I remember the same when I was a kid, and my grandfathers (one was a church organist in his retirement and the other a funeral director) had "tough weeks" that stretched sometimes into "tough months." What made them tough was the weight of death. Priests commiserate on the same line. It doesn't happen too often, but every once in a while deaths pile up on us, one after another. Eventually, we just get worn down. That can happen due to our own grief (I feel that in this time, both funerals this month were for people I liked and respected, on top of feeling the standard and powerful pastoral linkage), or it can happen because of the magnitude of the circumstances (I remember one July 4th when my grandfather had to leave a parade he had helped to plan in order to recover the bodies of a family he knew well who had all died that morning in a tragic canoing accident).

Funny thing, it is not a sense of depression or sadness, it is more a sense of being fatigued after running an emotional and spiritual marathon. Instead of feeling "tired," I feel "weary." A simple distinction, but necessary nonetheless. Weary means you can get one more maybe gasp out here and there, but shutdown is not too far away....tired means an early bedtime before eventual refreshment lifts.

I have discovered some tricks and ways to overcome that weariness in my years ordained. Simple 1-2-3, and sometimes it works to break the weariness: 1)go find life-when I was a student chaplain I would go up to maternity and stare at the newborns...and the same bears with parish life-we had Day School orientation last week and seeing the wee ones getting ready for their first days of school was a recharge; 2)laugh-with friends and with colleagues-don't expect solitude to push clouds away as it takes a strong breeze to clear the sky and a good belly laugh does the same with sadness; 3)remember to pray-simple, really, but hard to remember...I had times these past weeks when it was only the ongoing dialogue I have with God that kept me rolling.

Finally, and this is after the 1-2-3 does its bit, sleep. Real sleep. That is the hardest spiritual discipline for me. I am late to bed and early to rise most days...and stress only accentuates that pattern. Tonight, an early bedtime after Mystery! on PBS and then the alarm won't ring 'till Tuesday.

Peace, MKS+

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