Sunday night began my one week vacation. I am sharing a cabin with a priest friend, just outside of Galena, IL. He shares my love for woods and waterways. We will be having supper with several other presbyters while we are out here, The only thing is that I cannot get him to play golf. Oh well.
In recent years I have forgone the treks to far away cities and beaches, and stayed within a six to eight hour drive of home. I usually get about six to ten days of vacation a year. But what is important is to take a vacation or time away to rest and relax. Jesus calls his apostles to come away by themselves for some rest after they had been at their ministry for some time.
In our culture we might even feel guilty about rest and relaxation. There was an article in the Chicago Tribune some time ago about workers today who take their cellphones and laptops with them so as to keep in touch with the office. These working vacations can contribute to ongoing difficulties with stress and family relationships. There is never a clear separation between work and personal life. Our jobs owns us and that is not a good thing.
When we talk about stewardship we necessarily are talking about responsibility, and that includes being responsible for our own health and well-being. Rest and relaxation are important components of our spiritual life. In our time here we have done our best to avoid "parish-work" talk. That has not meant sharing concerns about people in our parish, and of course the Liturgy and Liturgy of the Hours are part of our routine, because we are still priests.
When I get back on Friday night I expect that I will be sitting in a pile of mail. But that's okay. Just a few days of hiking and canoeing will regenerate us and help us in our pastoral care, preaching, and teaching ministry. It is okay to take some time off and play for a while.