Rector's Ramblings June 11, 2014
In the priesthood, no two days are the same. Some days are slower, some filled with more activity; some and longer, some are shorter; some are enjoyable, some are not. And then there is the range of encounters and experiences that can be found in the same day. Today is one of those days that has been unique, and likely will never be repeated. Within the span of four hours today I found myself dressed up in my goofy eyeball hat at VBS, puppeteering the mascot ant for our theme this week, then changing into my suit and collar for a funeral for Linda Zahm, a one-time active member of our parish, then back into shorts and t-shirt and goofy hat for the close of VBS, and finally into vestments for our healing service! There was a great swing in and out of various modes of being over the course of the morning, all in a day’s ministry for a priest.
Ministry is often about flexibility, unlike my previous work with Big Brown, which was all about routines and deadlines, to the extent that every movement was studied by the industrial engineering department. There was no room for flexibility in getting packages from point A to point B; it had to be done, and done a certain way. No doubt it feels like many pastors are scatter-brained, because they are. It is hard to keep focus on one thing for very long because there is so much going on and so much that is different on a day to day basis. Projects are frequently interrupted, but as they say, ministry is all about the “interruptions”. Most of us don’t mind the interruptions; it’s what we do. I often enjoy the interruptions more than whatever else I was doing!
Most of us thrive on some sort of routine, even if it’s a bit loosey goosey. The recent transition from the school year into summer has thrown most families – kids and parents alike – for a bit of a loop as we all readjust to a new routine, or the lack thereof. We are hardwired to live according to routine, even if it is the most basic routine of waking versus sleeping. Our bodies become natural clocks when we have routines. We can sense when it’s noon, either from the position of the sun, or the rumble of our stomach, or simply a natural ability to tell how much time has elapsed since we last did something. No matter how we cut it there are rhythms in life that make it what it is, and often bring a sense of comfort and stability.
Some of the most unhappy people I know are rigid and lacking in joy at the same time. Some of the happiest people I know are the ones who are free from all routine, although those folks are really annoying to be around sometimes, especially when you set a time to do something together! I also know people who are the exception to those rules as well. Somewhere along the continuum between the two most of us find happiness and contentment. Some of us could stand to loosen up, and some of us could stand to buy a watch. Where do you fall on the continuum?
Life is full of interruptions; we have to wear many different hats, sometimes at the same time; when we are healthiest we are flexible and able to handle what comes our way. In these summer months, explore the interruptions and find new ways of being flexible. Be kind to yourself, and find a healthy dose of down time, particularly if you’re overly active. When it’s time to do something, you’ll know or someone will tell you. Go with it. As for me, I’m going home “early”. I know about some interruptions later in my week, so I’ll take the quiet break while I can get it.
Serene Son of God, whose will subdued the troubled waters and laid to rest the fears of men: Let thy majesty master us, thy power of calm control us; that for our fears we may have faith, and for our disquietude perfect trust in thee; who dost live and govern all things, world without end. Amen.