Time Off

By Peter Jenks
The Rev. Peter Jenks of St. John's Church in Thomaston

It is probably easier for me to change the oil in my car than it is for me to stop what I am doing and allow for my own soul to be “re-oiled” and cared for.  I know that my car’s engine will freeze without oil, and I need to keep it going.  But I also know that I need rest and to care for myself or I will be ill and have to stop what I am doing.  Without rest or sleep we become stressed and ultimately we shut down.

When I seek out a priest, I do not care as much if they are always “there” as I care that they know God and have made a journey of faith themselves and with such knowledge help me.  When I go to a doctor, I would rather have one who takes time to learn and keep up with recent insights than have her or him always available.  And even more so, I savor every time my child has had a teacher who is still filled with the joy and passion for learning than one who is simply hanging on until retirement or simply just hanging on.  And yet rarely do we offer the people in our community the time to relearn, refresh and “re-oil” their souls. 

Instead we see a very high turn over of doctors, teachers, and clergy in our area.  We think that using people up and then hiring new workers is cheaper, but really this thinking may be more expensive and time consuming.  Finding good people to fill these positions is not always easy.  We count on the natural beauty of our region to keep drawing people here, but then we underpay and overtax their efforts and they move away.

The various professions I have listed could be added to very easily; this applies to nurses, social workers, those who check out our groceries and on and on.  Being open every day and working as much as possible with very limited time off carries a cost.  We live in a society of quick profits and results, from politicians only concerned with the next election to the need for immediate returns on investment.  Living with a hope for a future and a long life demands reflection and re-creation. 

So often the concept of a sabbatical; or time away to find oneself again, to regain one’s passion again, or to recharge one’s battery, is seen as a luxury and too costly.   Never have I felt that an oil change is a luxury or too costly for my car.  Why do we feel such for the people who matter more?

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