Blog Post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
In a meeting with rural pastors yesterday, I learned something new. It’s called floating. Apparently, this is when a person gets in a canoe, raft, or other floatable device and floats down a river. Being raised near lake Michigan, I have a difficult time imagining groups of people just floating down a river! My first question was, “How do you get back up the river?” I could tell from the silent giggles that I was out of my element! Steven Matthews, who is the pastor at Ste. Genevieve, then sent me photos. I still have many questions, but this summer I’m ready to head to Steelville and give it a try!
The conversation of floating came about as I challenged the pastors to take a break. The time spent on Zoom meetings, writing liturgies for virtual worship, making conference pastoral care calls, and delivering front door care packages is taking a toll on the pastors. Chaplains have been working double time to be the family for patients who cannot have visitors, as well as care for overworked medical colleagues and caregivers. Many are feeling exhausted, yet taking time off doesn’t feel right when we are already working from home.
For some, being at home is part of the problem. In the article, “To Avoid Burnout, Work Less and Ignore ‘Productivity Propaganda’”, Lindsey Tramuta writes, “There’s burnout, and then there’s pandemic-induced burnout. . . Juggling full-time responsibilities, family life, and the stress of confinement makes the risk of burnout greater than ever.”
Tramuta then raises the issue of productivity and distraction and how our ability to be productive on devices that are designed to distract us is problematic: “When you combine our culture of chronic overwork with the distraction inherent to the technology and social media, at a time when people are forced to stay at home, you have a recipe for amplified anxiety and shame.”
Tramuta then interviews Rahaf Harfoush, the author of Hustle and Float. Harfoush believes we need to incorporate recovery time in our work process. In her book, she shares the idea that “it’s crucial to recover hard when you play hard.”
As we approach Memorial Day, perhaps it is time we plan for a break. Plan a time to turn off the electronics, take our eyes off of the screens, just unplug and take some “self” time. Call in the stated supply, bring in the guest liturgist, and get away. As things are opening up, perhaps a nature walk, museum exploration, or just sitting in a canoe and floating down the river is in order. Take a break. You deserve it.
Rev. Craig M. Howard