While I was a curate, the director of curate training reminded us at regular intervals that it was a mortal sin to work on your day off.
Even then, I lapsed once in a while, - WonderfulVicar and FabBishop both struggle to take time off, and without wishing to deny responsibility for my actions, it can be hard to draw firm boundaries when your bosses tend towards the more porous variety themselves. (+Mary was quite challenging on this front too: somehow she manages a study day each week as well as a proper day off...and I don't seem to have read a real book for weeks)
The big difference then was that,though I worked hard as a curate, I didn't carry the weight of responsibility that comes with being a real live vicar. Days off were fun, but not as physically necessary as they now are.
I don't mean by this that I'm staggering under a hideous load, that I can't sleep at night for worrying about the parish (though I have been known to wake up so horribly aware of items from the to do list that the only answer is to get up and get on with them) - but there is something very different about being the one in charge...and though it's a good something, it's also incredibly exhausting.
Thus my view of days off has altered over the past year.
I used to worry how to fill them creatively.Now, if I don't have a round of entertainment planned, that's perfectly OK. If I don't actually get up till the morning has almost vanished, that's fine too.
But what isn't fine at all is the way things that have to be done can sometimes stray onto a Friday, because I really do know that if I don't get a day off in the course of the week, I'll be floundering by the time the next Friday comes round.
Today, for example, has been Friday all day.
And yet,I've taken two funerals.
There were excellent reasons for this...I lost one parish day this week to the Bank holiday, and another to the Bishop's training/consultation day, and next week I'm away on a short course learning to be a training incumbent (how that came about is a wonder I don't propose to try and fathom) - so the funerals had to be fitted in somewhere...and today was the only solution.
But I know it's not a good idea, and I hate the idea that I might be using busyness as a means of quantifying my value as a minister here. It's always tricky, when you are theoretically in control of your own timetable..and here in these parishes, the expectations of the Sunday congregation are actually quite limited. Provided the services are there, and there are no obvious signs of pastoral neglect, I could pretty much set my own agenda, and, were I so minded, do very little from one Sunday to the next...But that, of course, would make me feel thoroughly insecure (leaving aside the possible impact on the mission of the church if the vicar did nothing beyond walking her dog - actually, that might be quite a positive model of ministry..hmmmn)
With all that lot chuntering gently round in my head, it was a mixed blessing to read Graham's post.
When my arm is sound, I do often cycle, and I'm hugely aware of how good it is. to be visible.
I love walking, though as Revd Last Minute, I do tend to leave insufficient time to get anywhere on time as a matter of form.
But I have to admit, I feel safer, more sure that I'm doing the "right" things here if there are lots of nice concrete appointments in the diary...lots of ways of proving to my own satisfaction that I'm a Really Useful Vicar.
I know that's a load of hooey, but it doesn't diminish its power...If we were all immune to the things we know are actually unreal, I wonder how the world would actually look. Time, perhaps, to consider the lilies.