Allen relaxing in our kitchen (Photo by MKT)

I have such a complex relationship with vacation, time off, and being away.  Like anyone (most anyone?) I really enjoy getting away from the everyday activities of life, which, even for a pastor, can get to be a bit difficult to bear at times.  Actually, using that language “to bear” reminds me that for those of us in the helping, caring, listening professions, the daily routine can be especially difficult, particularly when we take the pains and heartaches of those we serve to heart.

But, as I said, my understanding of vacation is complex.  I’m also a bizarrely social creature, who both craves interaction with people and desperately needs to be alone!  For those of you who know about the Meyers-Briggs Personality Inventory, I am exactly in the middle between an E and an I (  This is to say, I am either both an introvert and an extrovert, or I am neither! I use to say that I was an introvert trapped in an extrovert’s body.   More recently I’ve come to say I am an introvert trapped in an extrovert’s profession.  If I were honest, I’d say what the inventory simply says: I’m both, and that presents problems as well as possibilities.

Facebook, of course, has only amplified this dilemma.  Craig (my partner of 20+ years) has been fascinated with the fact that I, an intensely personal man, puts so much of my life out there in public, in plain view (of those 1,000+ persons I’ve “friended” — EEEEK!)  But I don’t see much of a contradiction at all.  I am intensely personal, and cherish my private life, and yet I am delightfully social, desiring to share my world with those I know and, especially, with those I love.

So… I am on vacation, and I need/want/hope for time away from it all.  Even the Energizer Bunny needs a new battery now and then!  But I’ll also “get away” in a weirdly public way.  In my way.  Offering those pieces of my time away that I think will bring joy and delight and inspiration (maybe?) to those I know and love, and keeping that which is private and personal back for me alone, or for my partner and a close friend or two.

This has been an exciting, exhausting, and at times a very tough year.  One year ago our Church Secretary fell ill a week before Christmas and she continues to be incapacitated.  I went through not just one, but three interview process, one which followed the firing of a staff person — always a trauma for a gentle soul like me.  And, to top it all off, our church has been growing and offering vibrant new opportunities and ministries — each of which is demanding my skills as an administrator (read that: delegator) to be honed and utilized.  A vacation will only make me a better pastor, friend, partner, and human.