But this distastfully necessary purge seems like an excellent metaphor for why I am taking the week before Labor Day off. I am carrying too much. And it is making me so tired.
Tired of the people I love and work with dying all the time. As my sister reminds me, "That's the business you are in." And she is right, of course. The people I work most closely with find their way to me because they have been, or still are very, very sick. And some of them die. In the past year, lots of them have died. Too young. Too courageous. Too hopeful. Too many people who were too good to lose. Some go in a flash: "Hey, did you hear about...?" Some fade slowly: prisoners being tortured by their own minds and bodies. They leave a part of themselves with me. But they all take a little piece of me, too. I miss them. Everyone who works in a caring profession has toools to cope with the cost. And I have my own. But my toolbox is getting empty. And I am tired.
Tired of the news of the world. Tired of murdered cops and activists and junkies. Tired of cowards who use cars and vans as weapons, and cynics who use terrorism to raise campaign funds. Of officials who value short term gain over long term wisdom; who would rather cling to their power, however trivial, than to act in the best interests of all their constituents. Of publishers of lies, and consumers who lack the initiative to research or even think before hitting the "Share" button.
And dear God, I am tired of my friends. The ones who tell me I've been brainwashed by the Jews who run the media or blinded by my own privilege. The ones who tell me I haven't suffered enough to understand or really care. The ones who assume they know what I think based on my party affiliation rather than the way I live my life. Tired of being held responsible for things I can not change, and ridiculed for trying to change the things I can. Of friends who put me in an ideological box where I don't belong, and refuse to accept any truth that doesn't fit into the box they have chosen for themselves.
Tired of myself. My struggles with growing older and weaker and fatter. My compulsion with online words that turn into debates that turn into meaningless schoolyard brawls. My impatience with the needs of others and my frustration with the seeming indifference of a God whom I love and study and pray with every day. Of my eagerness to complain rather than to act, and with the infuriating need to relearn life's most important lessons again and again. God help me, but I wear myself out more than anything else.
So I'm taking a vacation. First I'm going to sit that uncomfortable vigil and let a man stick a camera inside me. Then I'm going to take a week to do some long delayed spring cleaning in my house. I'm going to read more books than posts, write more poems than workouts, play more music than online games, and walk in the woods and the streets instead of pacing the floor. Maybe I'll get drunk. Maybe I'll kiss a girl. Certainly, God and I will have some long talks about how we got here, and how to proceed together. But mostly I'm going to let the sun and the wind and the rain finish the job that my Thursday night tonic begins. I'm going to clean out the crap from my life, take a good look inside, and make some good choices about the next chapter of my life and ministry.
So you're on notice, world. You have four business days, then I've got some work to do. Please schedule your emergencies accordingly.
And please, somehow... give it a rest, by whatever means necessary...
Take yourself a vacation.