I have been spending these last few days on vacation at the Proskine Cabin at Casowasco. It is gorgeous and lovely and has been really delightful.
I've noticed, though, how bad I am at relaxing.
Now, before I elaborate, let me say that I really dislike the habit we have, that clergy have (maybe this is a problem for everyone else too, but I'm talking particularly about my colleagues here), of trying to "out busy" each other. Busy-ness is not next to godliness, I swear.
What I want to say, though, is that I find it very hard to relax, and that it being so hard to relax is pretty sad, a sad reflection on ministry and culture and perhaps a statement about my need to more faithfully cultivate a practice of Sabbath.
Yesterday, I had nothing on my agenda except having lunch with friends. But all day, I couldn't escape a sense of "should be." I should be doing this, I should be doing that. Was I in town away from the cabin too long? I really should be at the cabin so I can relax. Should I check my email? I would enjoy checking email, but shouldn't I be happy to not check my email? I have a couple of emails that I want to send, but I want to go for a walk before dark, but shouldn't I really get to those emails?
The first day I was here I found myself a bit frantically wanting to do everything I had brought with me to do to relax. I tossed some 10 lb weights and my kettlebell in with me for exercise, a vegetarian slow-cooker cookbook to look at, some library books I've had out, some movies I rented at red box, my journal, which I've neglected writing in of late. And Monday night, I was stressed out because I was try to make sure I "relaxed" with all of those things right away. Even though I had the whole week to "relax" and even though relaxing should actually involve some joy, not more stress.
The best vacation I ever had in my life was when I went on a cruise a few years ago. It was awesome, because I was cut off from so many things - it was expensive to use the internet for more than a couple minutes at a time, if at all. I could barely tax my mind enough to read a magazine while I was laying on the deck. Playing trivia games didn't count. But I can't afford to go on a cruise every time I need to relaaaxxxx. (Alas!)
I'm trying to take a deep breath, and ask myself this week: What do I want to do right now? What would I most enjoy during this time? What would be really satisfying?
My favorite Bible verse has been, since high school: I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10 b) That's what Jesus came for - for us to have abundant life. I'm trying to remember that, and let it guide my life. I'm trying to let it shape even my vacation, and I suspect if I let it guide my ministry more I would find the fruit of that endeavor as well.
And now, I'm going to go watch some cheesy movie that I've seen 100 times already. And I think I will enjoy it.