Ever since I started with this lovely congregation, back in 2003, I've been setting aside July as the month I "go on vacation". I have the best intentions: to stay out of their hair, to avoid discussing congregational business, to respond only to emergencies, to do a bit of traveling off-island, and to have a lot of fun.
Problem is, ministry is fun, mostly. I do refrain from making recommendations about issues and business, unless it's of an emergency nature. I do go traveling a bit. I do some entertaining of non-church friends and meet those friends for coffee or a jam or barbecue occasionally.
There is one situation that is critical and cannot be abandoned. I will continue to visit and care for this individual as I can during my "vacation". Independence from pastoral care is one of those ministerial duties that doesn't really seem to exist. There is always someone who can't be set aside for a month; too much can happen when someone is very ill. I want to be available if possible when the end comes.
But today I'm going up to Coupeville for lunch with two Astoria friends and next week I'll head for Moses Lake to spend one day and night with my sister and family before going to my 50th high school reunion in Athena. Class of 59, McEwen High School Scotties, Athena, Oregon---go you Scots!
The reunion actually takes place every year in July in Athena, during Caledonian Days, a celebration of Scottish life and customs, with dancing, dog trials, that sort of thing. We grads (and it's "whoever's still vertical") hang out in the park or over by the high school parking lot in RV's, drinking beer and eating barbecue, decorating our class float for the Saturday parade, and reminiscing about old times. It will be fun.
Sunday morning I have to scoot back up to Puget Sound to be the chaplain at July Eliot, the PNW's UU summer camp. That too will be fun.
Now if I can just go incognito to worship on the Sundays I'm here. It's the first year we've had July services and there are some cool things happening on Sunday. Maybe I can wear a nametag that says "I'm only here for worship and coffee hour; no business conversations, please".