“Take care! I’ll see you soon!”
So ended of a recent conversation I had in the parish. It’s a phrase that we often use as a way of departure. But I found myself wondering: what do we really mean when we say it? Does it mean, “keep yourself out of harm’s way?” Does it mean, “stay healthy, now that winter is here?” I’d like to think that it’s all of the above. Nobody likes to see someone they know with any type of discomfort. The words had me thinking about the upcoming weeks during the seasons of Advent and Christmas.
This, as you all know, is a very busy time. It is a time year that is filled with all kinds of extra activities both within and outside the church. Usually, there are extra services, extra get-togethers, extra programs with children, and the list goes on… All added together, it means countless hours are spent by both volunteers and clergy to make these things happen.
So then, what about these volunteers and clergy? Surely, they never get sick. Surely, they have never had to deal with a minor bump in the road during this busy time. Surely, extra things don’t get piled on top of an already busy season. Right?
I’d love to tell you that it doesn’t happen. I would love to tell you that everything always goes smoothly. But, as we all know, it doesn’t. It is the time of year where, typically, life happens. When it does, I have seen time and again how folks find a way to deal with the unexpected while still pulling off an enormous amount of other tasks. And so, to all of those for whom this season is busy, this is for you.
To the countless volunteers that make so many things happen: none of this would be possible without you. Your dedication, the hours you put in, and your loving care goes into every last detail. It absolutely couldn’t be done without you. The patience that you show when things don’t go as planned is incredible. I have seen the amount of time that it takes to do these things, and very understandably, you are tired by the end of the season! In the middle of all this busyness, please take as much time as you possibly can to rest and recharge. If needed, drop into the office, grab a chair and a coffee. We’re ready to lend a hand, or an ear.
To the clergy: you are captain of this ship. You steer us into the right direction. You do this all throughout the year, but even more so during this busy season. It must not be easy, but you make it look that way. It is your leadership and guidance that helps us figure out where we need to go. You are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In these moments when you are exhausted from running at full speed, trying to plan out the next step, and making sure that we are okay, I will say to you as I said above: drop in. Flop down, maybe close your eyes for a minute, and rest. Even if it is just to calm your thoughts.
I cannot adequately take stock of all the tasks being accomplished at this time of year, some of which happen outside the Church doors. But I can see how hard everyone works to accomplish these things, together.
To all of you: we’re still here, and our door is always open.