Monday, September 16, 2019

A few random thoughts. . .

When I was a child, I looked forward to summer.  It was not simply the end of the school year (for that matter, I loved school) but it was the beginning of a season less busy with the ordinary and with more room for the extraordinary.  For my family that meant cookouts and days spent on the beach at the river and time on the farm (from cutting cockleburs to putting up hay) to just playing outdoors.  Those were the days when my brother and I said good-bye to our mother in the morning and did not return until meals.  It was a time in which the danger so much a part of our mentality today was far from our thoughts and fears.

As a young adult, summer was time off from college and time for work.  Back then you could actually work through the summer and earn enough money to pay for most of your college expenses come fall and spring!  But it was also time back with high school friends -- friendships put on hold because after graduation we disbursed to the four winds in our various academic pursuits.  After seminary, summer was marked by my ordination and move to my first parish.  It was a summer of excitement as the adventure began and I finally (after 8 years) was entering my first full-time job.  Even after this, summers were lazy times.  Sunday school was not held during the summer and the whole life of my first parish slowed down greatly during June, July, and August.  It was a welcome pace as we had not only more leisure time but more time to spend with those whom we loved.

Somewhere summer began to disappear.  This last year it was hardly distinguishable from the rest of the year.  There was no slow down or even pause.  It was no different than the months before or the months after.  Part of it was the time away due to the Floor Committee Weekend, the National Youth Gathering, and the Synod Convention.  Part of it was the fact that our beloved Cantor of 22 years retired and we were in active search mode for a successor to continue his legacy.  Part of it was due to the fact that we continued to take care of our granddaughter while her mom and dad attended to their full-time jobs.  Part of it was due to the fact that I had some deadlines to meet through the summer.  But I missed summer this year.  I longed for the old days in which you found time to come home early and stay up late and host family and friends around the grill and take off for parts unknown.  I missed it because it never happened this year.

Part of me blames technology.  I have one of those smart phones that means I am connected even when I am technically off.  Emails find me, texts ding, and the phone rings.  The pace of life is dictated by many things but especially by the rapid speed with which technology finds us and we find others.  I am not at all sure that cell phones or emails or social media have improved life and made me more productive but they surely have blurred the distinctions between work time and time off.  This is definitely not a good thing.

Part of me blames, well, me.  I admit that I find it hard to take my foot off the gas and slow down.   It is easy to fall into the trap of confusing busyness with success and to use a full calendar rather than the ministry of the Word and Sacraments as justification for earning your wages.  I know I am guilty of that.  I take on too much and some of what I take on does not need to be done.  But all of that does not stop me from looking at the calendar and wondering where did summer go, what about all those things I thought I would do in the down time of summer, and why the world seems to be going faster rather than slower.  Guess it is time to put away my white shoes that I never wore.  Labor Day has come and gone and with it all my summer hopes and dreams.  Maybe you are in the same boat?


John Joseph Flanagan said...

Just a suggestion: Take more walks by yourself. That is what I do often, and it is a way to refresh yourself and speak to God as you go along. Turn off your smartphone. Keep it off during your walk, and at other times during the day. You can check for messages later. I often tell my friends, colleagues, and relatives that my phone will be off until such and such a time, so they know in advance. I have a home phone and so my cellphone is usually off. I never text, I avoid Facebook, and refuse to clutter my life with technology, or stupid things like Twitter. You can enjoy life again, but you must first shake off the hard taskmaster called modern technology, which is a good thing in some ways, but will take away your time and your soul in the process.

Carl Vehse said...

This may or may not make you relax any, but according to a September 16, 2019, Money article, "This Is the Best Place to Live in America Right Now":

"Clarksville, Tennessee might not be on your radar yet, but it should be, and it’s MONEY’s No. 1 Best Place to Live in 2019. The average age of a Clarksville resident is only 29, almost a decade younger than the state of Tennessee as a whole."

The rest of the article provides the details of why the article reached this conclusion.