One of the two pastorates I serve has closed down for the winter. The high cost of heating old, uninsulated buildings coupled with the difficulties getting around that plague our senior orientated congregation have led them to take a three month shut down each winter. This winter, we are making a slight variation–one of the community halls stays open all winter and we have made arrangements with them to hold a worship service there once a month.
So, my work week has been reduced from 80% to 40%, sort of. I am filling in on Sundays for another congregation nearby but that is supposed to be preaching on Sunday and I am using a slightly modified version of the sermon from my other pastorate so that really only takes a bit of extra time each week.
In preparation for this break, I did some planning. I know myself and knew that is I didn’t have anything in mind, I would spent way too much time sitting in a chair reading and watching Youtube videos. So, I have the parts and the wood for a tide clock, I have a couple of chairs that need to be sanded and varnished, an intricate metal R2D2 model that I got for Christmas and a backing for newsprint pads all sitting in the office and workshop in various stages of production.
Today is Monday again and you might expect that the big issue today is which project(s) to get at and how much time to give to each of them. Our snow has disappeared and been replaced by a light skim that is way too inadequate for skiing so the day should focus on some of the projects. But that isn’t going to happen.
I had a call from a couple I have worked with before who need some refresher sessions, starting this morning. I am doing a funeral in the afternoon and this evening, I have to visit a family about another funeral coming later in the week. Somewhere in there, I hope to find some time to unwind from yesterday, although the process of unwinding on a day when I have a funeral scheduled and a family to see about another funeral might be unrealistic in the first place.
Except for the counselling session, I didn’t have much choice about the way this Monday developed. Well, actually, I do have control over the day–I am not being forced to do any of it. But the choice is not a direct one. While I was consulted on the time of the funeral, I long ago decided that unless I have an unbreakable appointment, I would go with the time requested by those needing the funeral. The visit later, well, I could have scheduled that anytime but the longer the wait to meet about the service, the longer the family sits in limbo.
Sometimes, I forget that I do have a choice because of the fact that I don’t need to make choices immediately because I am acting on decisions that I made a long time ago. And I am realizing that it is important to remember that I do have and have made a choice. When my Monday off in the workshop or on the ski trail gets taken over by a variety of things, I do need to remember that in the end, I decided to do these things–my free time wasn’t stolen from me, I decided to give it up.
That is important for a couple of reasons. First, it means that I can’t blame anyone else–I made the decisions. Even if I didn’t make them right now, what I am doing is the consequence of decisions I made. I remain accountable for my use of my time.
Secondly, remembering that I made the decision reminds me that I can make other decisions. I am working today because I chose to–but I could chose not to work. I would have to revisit some other decisions but I have the freedom to do that. I will choose to do some things differently this week because of the decisions to work today–I may or may not end up in the workshop this week but in the end, that will be my choice, not the result of things beyond my control. I am still accountable for what I do with my time.
May the peace of God be with you.