Back on July 9, I sat on the organ bench at Decatur First and played morning worship, and then when the service was over I stepped out the door...and I didn't go back for 2 whole weeks. That included 2 Sundays. I don't think I've taken 2 Sundays off together for...a long time. I was thinking back on that vacation over the last week. So if you'll pardon the stream of consciousness...
We didn't go anywhere exotic. Actually we didn't go anywhere at all. We stayed at home. I'm not even sure I'd call it a "stay-cation" actually, because while we took a few opportunities for local family fun, we didn't spend the entire time finding fun local stuff to do.
Most of the time we spent working on the house. A few years ago we moved into a house that needed a lot of love and care. That first summer it was like the arrival of one of our children: long days and short nights feeling fortunate if we were able to keep up with the bare necessities, to say nothing of getting ahead. But over the past few years we've managed to make good progress, and today the honeydo list looks more like things we'd like to fix rather than things that absolutely have to be fixed.
I think we worked our way through 60-70% of the honeydo list. Things like finally refinishing the sunroom, changing all the exterior door locks and knobs, pulling down handrails from the stairs and replacing them with better rails that are properly returned to the wall. Finally finishing painting the windows...and taking the storm windows off and cleaning all the glass. Did you know windows are clear? I had no idea.
We still have a lot to do, and we likely always will. Not because the house is bad--at this point it needs about the same level of care as most houses. It's because of two realities. The first is about us, and the second is about the house.
We change. All those knobs I put on the doors? Brushed nickel. They go with all the other interior knobs I replaced a few years ago. And the hinges. And the light fixtures. And the bathroom hardware. As Jessica V said the other day, "The 90's called, and they want their polished brass back." But in ten years or twenty years or something like that, someone will say, "2017 called, and it wants its brushed nickel back." Some real dork will make a joke about a Canadian band, and then everyone will get their car out of their briefcase and head home.
We change. Things we love today we might not love so much tomorrow. Someone tell my mom I eat broccoli and see what she says. (Mom, if you're reading this, I still don't eat broccoli salad because it still makes me gag). One day I had some in a Chinese entree and thought it wasn't too bad, and it's been a slow journey ever since. And today I eat steamed broccoli. I don't even have to have cheese on it (not that there's anything wrong with that). It's not that everything about us changes. I mean, I still don't like tomatoes, but the things we like, well...let's just say last time I watched "Hoosiers" it wasn't as good as I remembered (although I still love Jimmy's hair).
And the house. Bless it. It's going to age. There is no such thing as aging gracefully. That's an illusion. Things will start to sag and wrinkle. Things will weaken over time (I'm talking about floors, carpet, and the roof...what were you thinking about?). So we'll never be finished. Because we'll fix one thing, and another will need to be fixed. I just hope it doesn't all need to be fixed at the same time again. That was pretty rough.
So anyway, I was doing all this stuff to the house, and I have to tell you that those two Sundays I took off were magical. I didn't go to church somewhere else like a good Christian. I stayed home. I got some stuff done. I got a little closer to the continually elusive goal of getting "caught up," whatever that means. That extra time on Sunday morning, it was a gift...from God?
I've written before on this very topic...that what we do together in church on Sunday morning has to be pretty spectacular to make it worth missing Sunday morning at home. Every time I go on vacation I am reminded of that truth...and also the truth that what we do together in church is absolutely worth the time, even if we need to be away now and then to preserve our sanity (a statement to unpack another day, perhaps).
I told you this was more or less stream of consciousness, didn't I?
I guess if I'm honest, I have to admit that I didn't know how tired I was. Not physically tired, though I guess that's true too (and sleeping in a little over vacation helped with that, even if I wound up offsetting that sleep staying up watching Parenthood on Netflix with Lisa). Mentally tired. To be clear, I love my work, and I really enjoy all the fun things we do during the month of June. Music Mission, VBS, and Music n More are three of my favorite weeks of the year! It's not really about June or April, I don't guess. It's about leaning into the church all the time...and the need to step back and gather myself a bit. The change of pace that was working on the house and seeing a lot of my family was even more welcome than I thought it might be (I had pretty high expectations in that regard)...and reminded me that I need to do a better job of prioritizing that throughout the year. I've already got some plans working in that direction.
I remember talking with a friend once who reminded me about the law of diminishing returns. It's an educational concept that means after a certain amount of time, you get less return on your investment of time (in the classroom, as the lesson gets longer the amount of learning begins to decrease). A break is needed to reset the mind. I've seen this in choir rehearsal many times. A piece will seem very difficult for us at the end of a rehearsal, but if we attack it fresh in a subsequent rehearsal, I almost wonder what the problem was! My time off is like that break...and I've come back to work fresh. It seems easier. Let me be clear. It isn't easier. But it seems like it. Well, so maybe it is.
And now...back to it. Rehearsals. Worship. Meetings. And if I learn the lessons this vacation had to teach, at least a couple of stretches of family time too.