Tuesday, March 05, 2013


I tend to try to power through when I'm sick. You know how it goes - you take some over-the-counter meds and you take a deep breath and you go do what you're scheduled to do, even though you feel awful.

I did it again this past weekend. We had our parish Women's Retreat and I led it. Good material on Benedictine Rule of Life and how we in our everyday lives can construct a rule of life based on Benedict's principles even though we aren't monks. I felt lousy before I went. I felt lousy through the retreat. I came home feeling lousy. I did an adequate job, but was certainly not as present as I wished I had been. But the deposit had been paid, the women were expecting me, it was not re-schedule-able, and I felt obligated to do it. This is one of the downsides of being solo clergy: often, there is no one else to do something that needs to be done.

I came home late Saturday afternoon, put on my jammies and crashed. Actually cooked some dinner, simply because it was easier than thinking of what I would ask PH to make for us, ate a little bit, and went to sleep.

Sunday came. The good news is that the sermon was written and the adult forum was prepared. I suppose I could have asked my deacon to lead Morning Prayer and just read the sermon, but I felt the weight of responsibility, so I took my meds and headed in and led two services and adult forum. Afterwards, I went home and crashed, again. Hacked and coughed like Mimi in "Rent" or "La Boheme" (depending on your cultural orientation).

So I took yesterday off. I did my Skype session for my independent study, but mostly I just slept. And today I am also taking off, and doing one tiny bit of writing but otherwise nothing. Cancelled a morning meeting. I'm feeling slightly guilty, but only slightly. I am too ill to manage much more than that.

I have some colleagues who would applaud my going in and doing the retreat and the Sunday services. They tend to also be the same folks who never cancel services in a blizzard. They usually post some sort of notice on their website or FB page saying "Please use your own discretion in deciding whether or not to join me in our morning services." Of course, it is usually the elderly faithful who come no matter what weather, simply because their priest is there. The same elderly faithful who would be most likely to have an accident in icy conditions or who could fall and break a hip on the walk. They and I generally don't agree on the topic of cancelling services, and for some of them, it is relatively easy to say "I'll be there" since they live in a rectory on the grounds of the church property. Suffice to say we disagree as to what faithfulness to our call looks like.

I do cancel services (rarely, given our weather here in the Capital of the Confederacy) if I believe it will be unsafe for parishioners, especially our elderly ones, to drive. It feels like the responsible thing to do.

But I wonder if I am being equally responsible when it comes to pushing myself through even when I'm really sick. I am well aware of disease being passed from one person to another, and I take care about contact with others when I'm sick. But it feels sometimes like I think that I'm the only one who can do stuff, so I do even when I shouldn't. And while that is sometimes true, it is not ALWAYS true. So maybe it is sometimes about ego, about worrying if people will judge if I am not there...

I'm glad I stayed home these past two days. It feels like the responsible thing to do. It was easier, since it was not Sunday, nor were there critically important meetings. Maybe I can be equally responsible if necessary, even on a Sunday...

1 comment:

Kate said...

I'm with you on the cancelling services. We had a storm coming through NYC last month, and I was scheduled to officiate at a Reaffirmation of Vows ceremony. I knew that nothing other than my cancelling the service would keep our 80 year old member on a walker and her almost as frail spouse from braving the slick NYC sidewalks to attend the service. Safety comes first. (We were able to reschedule, which is not always possible.)