As I read back through this post about the context of self care within the work and communities to which we are called, I was reminded of the conversation that started me on my own recent exploration of care for self.
I was at the bedside of one of our beloved parishioners, talking with her sister – who had been driving back and forth between the home in which she cares for another relative and the care center. She wasn’t sleeping much because it was clear that death was approaching. Time was precious. But I could see the toll of this schedule on her face, in her eyes.
I asked, “What have you done for you, lately?”
She answered in the way that many of us who are overly responsible, highly empathetic care-providers do: a blank stare, followed by a dismissive statement about being able to get through a hard season that will soon pass.
Then she asked, “How about you? What have you done for you?”
Yep. It took entirely too long to come up with anything. And that wasn’t ok. Not for me, not for my congregation. Not for that family. For all kinds of reasons.
If I am doing too much, who isn’t being called upon to exercise their gifts in service of the church?
What expectations am I setting up for the next pastor (an especially valid concern as a transitional minister)?
What am I modeling in terms of discipleship and pursuing shalom?
How can I expect to lead with energy, intelligence, imagination and love?
Those questions speak to much more than taking time to do little things for myself. They challenge me to rethink the way I am carving up my time, to review daily how I might be more disciplined, to consider how our congregation’s life in community might better do the work of caring for one another.
Then today, I read Rachel’s post about confession. Time to move from organization to personal again.