These last two weeks have been a bit busy.
I think…no, I KNOW I have hit every major city around us.
Not all the ‘busyness’ has been for work. There have been a few moments of leisure and play mixed in with all the miles logged between Springfield, Bloomington, Petersburg, and Peoria.
Needless to say, I have had a lot of ‘alone time’ in the truck and have done my fair share of car karaoke on I-55.
This ‘me’ time has reminded me of the importance of self-care.
I know, I know. Some of you are saying, “Hello pot. This is kettle calling.” And I appreciate your concern and the many ‘check-ins’ I get from my beloved congregation and friends asking if I am taking the time needed to rest, play, and re-create.
But it is a fine balance, isn’t it? Finding that sweet spot from the demands of life while also making the time to take care of ourselves. Like truly care for ourselves.
Like setting time aside to get that manicure, pull out the art supplies and paint, or go on that walk with the dogs.
Loving ourselves is as important as loving our neighbor. And sometimes, loving ourselves is the more difficult task.
At least for me it is.
I guess that is why many of my midweek reflections are my attempts to encourage the three of you who read this that life is more than work. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. Being a pastor is one of the greatest professions out there. And most days, I look forward to coming to the kirk house and getting my hands dirty.
However, no matter what we do and how much we love it, we can’t get so involved in our work that we forget we have no light to give to others unless we have it in ourselves first.
What does this mean?
Here is a story I recently heard that I think explains this statement a little more.
“One day a hunter in the desert saw Abba Anthony enjoying himself with the brethren and he was shocked. What kind of spiritual guide was this?
But the old monk said to him, “Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it.” So the hunter did. Then the old man said, “Now shoot another.” And the hunter did. Then the elder said, “Shoot your bow again. Keep shooting; keep shooting; keep shooting.” And the hunter finally said, “But if I bend my bow so much I will break it.”
Then Abba Anthony said to him, “It is just the same with the work of God. If we stretch ourselves beyond measure, we will break. Sometimes it is necessary to meet other needs.” When the hunter heard these words he was struck with remorse and, greatly edified by Anthony, he went away. As for the monastics there, they went home strengthened.”
Ultimately friends, leisure and play are essential parts of our faith formation. It is not laziness and it is not selfishness. It has something to do with the depth and breadth, length and quality of life.
So, I guess this is my attempt to give you permission, if you need it, to play and to rest.
As Abba Anthony knew in the story: play and leisure are the things that make work possible; that make work worthwhile.