Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Change of Gear?

From where I’m sitting, and in what I’m thinking, there is a tangible change of lifestyle at this time of the year. One that will last some eight weeks, maybe more, until September announces, “back to …” whatever it may be. Simply put, summer is here, and there is no louder trumpet call than the Independence Day celebrations this coming weekend. Already the crowds are on the roads and sidewalks, and most of us who live here year round give up all hope of our favorite restaurant tables for the rest of the season. The weather is warm (and dry, compared to the wet disaster that was last June) and there is an air of enjoyment wherever one breathes.

There is a false projection, made by so many of the clergy on the East End of Long Island, that as pastors we are especially busy in the summer months. It’s easy to see why some believe this. Church attendance surges at the end of June, and remains buoyant until the autumn. Parishes have delicious picnics and fun barbeques; the charity fundraisers are (hopefully) blessed with good weather, and there is a wealth of social entertainment and hospitality to enjoy. But let’s not kid ourselves. The pastoral needs are generally low, compared to those of a long winter. The liturgical pressures are actually much less than those of the cycle that begins in Advent and ends on Trinity Sunday. Generally speaking the people are happy – because it’s summer and because it’s a time of sport, leisure and various activities that are crammed into a short but energetic season. And they are happy because they are in a place where they want to be – a place of which countless others dream.

So if we are especially busy as priests, rabbis and ministers it is because we are drawn into the recreation of our flock. That can be exhausting, never dull – and always great fun. We’ll rest in September!

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