So I'm on vacation this week and next.
Lately, it has seemed that my vacation time is cursed. My last three vacations have been interrupted by a congregant's death. I of course fostered no ill will toward the families. I mean, how could I? "Why couldn't you have helped them hang on a few extra days?" See, it doesn't work.
The other fortunate thing is that any plans that I'd made weren't truly interrupted. Two of those weeks, I was just due so I'd planned just to sit around and not do church stuff. The other week I was in New York City when I found out about the death, but I was going to be home in time for the service anyway.
This time I have plans to head to New Orleans on a work trip. I haven't been to that part of the country besides, and to experience this firsthand I know will leave an impression. But I'm bracing myself. I'm bracing myself for it to come, maybe 9:00 on Friday evening as I finish packing: "Pastor Jeff...So-and-So died." Once I leave Saturday morning, I'll be beyond physical reach for this sort of thing, but up until that point I consider myself fair game.
This is all well and good for a guy with no children and a wife who's been in school for the past year, so we haven't had the time or money to do much of anything during my vacations anyway. But that's all going to change very soon. Am I really expected to look into my 5-year-old's eyes and say, "Sorry, Daddy can't go with you to Cincinnati...something came up." "Sorry, we have to cancel our trip to Daytona because something happened." "We'll go to Michigan next year. Daddy has to take care of something here now."
Are you kidding?
Yeah, yeah, I know all the "You chose this work" and "This is God's call for you" and "Ministry is about interruptions" and "Just say no and point them to whoever you got to do pastoral coverage." You never hear about bankers being called back from vacation for banking emergencies. You never hear about pharmacists cutting time off short because of a pharmacy emergency.
Of course, the other side of this is that I'm blessed with a very understanding congregation. They're as excited as anyone about us being pregnant. And many of them would be the first ones to say, "Um...what are you doing here?" Whether that would happen if I was 40 with junior high-age kids instead of a young guy fumbling around expecting a newborn...that remains to be seen. I'm not sure how that would work.
I'm not sure how much of any of this will work.