Monday, April 5, 2010

rest and relaxation

I took a vacation that was, as I've mentioned, a little more drive-y than I wanted. Actually what happened is that halfway through my second trip from LA to San Diego, behind the wheel of the car, I was overwhelmed with the realization that I hadn't wanted a vacation at all, I'd wanted a staycation, or a retreat. I wanted to be on a mountaintop, or a monastery, or both, with just me and God and some good books. (the problem was, I never asked myself what I wanted...)
I pulled over at the next scenic overlook and rested my eyes on the ocean & sunset. And I vowed to have a staycation.
The rest of spring break went along nicely, very socially, festively, campingly. And when I returned at last to San Anselmo I began my staycation -- a retreat in place. Nevermind that I had class, work, studying, and rehearsals to be at. I went to all of those, but as soon as I was off duty I'd hike, or walk, or pray, or assume a studious position in the library with that "do not disturb" posture on me. Basically what was at issue was turning down various invitations for socializing, and focusing instead on the dynamic that is present in, among, and between me, God, and my books.
It coincided nicely with Holy Week. Since last Thursday I've attended 10 hours of corporate worship services. Because I didn't run around socializing I was able to put my full energy and attention into them. Another part of retreating was the attempt to turn off my critical brain, which always sucks a lot of energy out of me. So I resisted the temptation to give snarky remarks on sermons, to complain when the line for communion was moving too slowly, to tell anyone (even myself) how much better things could've been run. Hard work I tell you, but a much better experience.

Anyway, seminary professors always remind you about self-care, since it's the most neglected practice of most pastors. And I may not have mastered it but at least I put one important piece of it into place: asking my own self how it wants to be cared for. It wants more retreats. Duly noted.


  1. I always want to have more quiet alone time, but I'm always afraid of not spending enough time with the people here. I don't want to miss out on anything that happens, but the flip side is that I always seem to be running out of time to do all of the little things that need to get done. I think you may be on to something here, but I don't know if I have what it takes to try it.

  2. ahh I understand that fear. the retreat was a very purifying experience (in the painful, fire-ish purifying way) causing me to stop paying attention to those fears and guilt that drives so much of what i do!
    the good thing is you don't have to decide to do it long-term. I gave myself a week. It could be done for a day, or an afternoon!