Coming back to parish ministry after a month’s absence is …. exhausting.
And I didn’t have all that much to do because the retired priest who was supplying for me during my month away stuck around for an extra Sunday to preside and preach at the morning services. But even so.
Why is this, do you suppose?
When we were tramping about the Emerald Isle, we would arise at 6:30 a.m. (not be design, I hasten to add … but because of some pernicious hardwiring of the brain combined with early sunrises), take a walk, go to breakfast, hit the road for a full 12-14 hour day of sightseeing, enjoy dinner at mid-evening in a pub, and often stay up ’til midnight nursing a Guinness and listening to Irish pub music. And it was never exhausting.
Yesterday, I simply attended the three morning services (dealt with a couple of minor errors in the service bulletin preparation — hymn numbers mistyped, a musical insert missing, that sort of thing), took part in the end-of-Sunday-School picnic on the church front lawn, went to a parishioner’s college graduation barbecue later in the day, and then attended a Southern Gospel concert we hosted. And by 8:30 p.m. I was completely drained. I couldn’t have stayed up to midnight with a Guinness if I’d tried!
I didn’t interact with any fewer people than on a vacation day, but the level of emotional energy expended in thse interactions must be orders of magnitude higher than that spent in the casual exchanges one has on holiday.
So it’s back to the daily grind, back to the work of ministry. Back to relying on God’s strength to make it through the day.