Learning to Vacate

WORDS FROM W.W. March 27, 2014

 

This is vacation week. I love vacation…and yet vacation is hard for me at the same time. That’s because it is hard for me to mentally vacate. After all, that is the meaning of vacation…”to vacate.”

Even when I vacate I have a tendency to only physically vacate. It is very, very difficult for me to totally check out. This week I’ve been thinking a lot about this coming Sunday’s message. We return Friday and I preach on Sunday. I’m not the type of person who can throw it together on Saturday with no forethought. The scripture and ponderings concerning it have whispered their way through this week. I don’t really mind that. It is part of the calling.

At least that is how I can justify it. My personality and work style would probably come to the same conclusion if I was a teacher, a lawyer, or a barista. If I was working at Starbucks I would probably be thinking about something related to caffeine. This summer I’ll be taking a month-long study leave. My congregation’s Leadership Team and Diaconate members have told me “to vacate the premises.” They know that I will be too easily pulled into things if I’m around. A study leave is suppose to enable you to leave in order to study. I’ll write a blog post each day, read books that I’ve been staring at on my shelves for so long they have gathered dust, pray, ponder, rest, and, of course…drink coffee.

But for it to have meaning I must vacate. It is not optional. It is just part of it. Part of the experience for me will be “learning to vacate.” How can I “not be present?” Many people are good at that. They can turn it on and off like a light switch. I’m more like a fire pit. The fire may be out, but there is some smoldering that is going on for a long long time.

One of my other “issues” is the guilt of vacating. Will people think less of me as a pastor if I scurry off? Do others think I am taking a long vacation that will be filled with sandy beaches, sun screen, and baseball games? Pastors have this need to be needed. Will my self-worth take a dive if I vacate for a while? Whose bedside can I pray at if I’m not around? Will people be able to function without the pastor on site? I’m convincing myself, although I’m not entirely on board yet, that they will do just fine without me around…that others in our church can say a kind word and utter a soft prayer for strength just like the one who has been ordained.

As you can tell, this whole area of “vacating” is a little uncomfortable for me although I’m looking forward to it. To draw a rough comparison, I had been looking forward to swimming in the ocean on vacation. After arriving at our beachside residence I turned on the TV. The sound of the ocean waves was softly waltzing into our room from outside, but on the TV was a nature film about seals and whales. It was very interesting until the scene appeared of a seal splashing around in the water juist a few feet from shore and an orca suddenly rising from the waves and snatching him in his mouth. Suddenly the excitement of swimming in the ocean was tempered a little bit!

Some things in life are like that. We approach them with excitement, and yet we fear that some teeth may be closing in on us. Once again, it is evident that I’ve got a lot to learn about vacating.

Explore posts in the same categories: Christianity, Community, Faith, Freedom, Humor, Jesus, Pastor, Prayer, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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One Comment on “Learning to Vacate”

  1. Kimberly Henry Says:

    I tend to be the same way! I love the idea of vacation but when it comes down to it, I’m not very good at “vacating” my brain!


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