In the past few days, I have actually had chances to play! I sometimes wonder about myself. I enjoy my work so much that I occasionally will go for many days before I take time to goof off and have some non-church-related fun.
I used to justify this by intoning Robert Frost's lines from "Two Tramps in Mud-Time":
"But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For heaven and the future´s sakes."
I love this stanza of his poem and truly, my avocation and my vocation are mostly united. Ministry for me is so much fun that sometimes I am amazed that they pay me to do this work.
But that means that I don't look for opportunities to play very often. I always seem to be working on something, whether it's at the gym, around the house, doing email, even thinking. I rarely read fiction except when I'm in bed. I am never far from my work. Even my trips out of town are usually work related.
I'm well aware that there is a certain Type A mentality in me and I have to make myself turn away from the job and do something entirely different.
This week has offered a couple of opportunities for fun. On Thursday night, I hosted a small group of musicians and we played old fiddle tunes, waltzes and folk songs for a couple of hours. I often just listen, but this time I dragged out my electronic keyboard and practiced a bunch of stuff I knew and was able to play along. I'm no Elton John, but I've played piano for years and learned how to use a fake book a long time ago.
We used to jam at Swallow Hill Music Association in Denver, at the Denver Friends of Folk Music, and in small groups, and it was there that I learned all the fiddle tunes in my repertoire. I never did learn how to play the fiddle, but I could use my keyboard know-how to play along. And it was hugely satisfying to play along with Judy, Steve, and JoAnn on their assorted instruments on Thursday night.
Then last night was the big UUCWI church auction, an annual fundraiser. And it was church-related, but it was also a lot of fun in its own right AND I bid on and bought several items which will offer occasions for fun.
I bought the following items: two beautiful, handthrown pottery serving bowls, which I will probably use for a gift; a lesson in making photographic bookmarks; a night of playing 25 cent poker; a family picnic at Goss Lake; a mystery dinner at Lavender Wind Farm; and, most exciting, a trip to the Walla Walla wine country in September. The events are spread out across the next several months, guaranteeing that I will be forced to have fun on a regular schedule during the coming year.
You might wonder if it's possible for a minister to have fun at church-related events. I know that the common wisdom among clergy is that a minister is always "on" when with the flock, and I agree with that and am careful when I'm with congregants (not that I do anything appalling when I'm not with them), but in a small community, it's necessary and appropriate to mingle socially with members of my congregation, avoiding church business if possible, and just enjoying each other.
A couple of UUCWI musicians occasionally come to the Thursday jams and there we are just fellow singers and players; the relationship is not minister and parishioner but musician and musician.
If it weren't possible to stretch these boundaries a bit, it would be very lonely to live in a small community. But it does require care. I don't want to embarrass my congregation nor make it difficult for them to see me as their minister, not just their buddy. It's a fine line to walk. I hope I do it appropriately.