A few years before he died, my friend Father Bill Finch, then Pastor at Saint Raphael in Rockville, recounted to me his parishioners’ insistent inquiries as to whether he was getting away during the summer. His response was: Why would I want to leave during the one time of year that it’s actually pleasant to live in my home? Boy, did he get that right!
Living “above the store” has its perils. The soundtrack even in my bedroom is the rumble and hum of a busy office. On my on my way to bed after a nice day off, and even on my way to the kitchen for breakfast, I inevitably walk past my desk — with the phone and its voicemail light, my email, the items I left out to make sure I got them done, and any unfinished work. You never know, day or night, when the doorbell is going to signal the arrival of somebody looking for Jackie or otherwise trying to “do business.”
It was just last week, Wednesday by my guess, that the master setting around here slipped down a couple of notches to “Tranquil Productivity” from “Full Frenzy,” the usual setting from Easter until after school lets out. Now this week, Father Gallagher is away on retreat. With Father Markey gone over a month, that means evenings have been glorious. Of course I still have work to do, and evenings often find me chipping away at it, but it almost seems like, well, I am in my home instead of cross between a train station and a boarding house. The quiet is not the only thing I like about it; I did enjoy the liberty of hollering at full volume and letting go unbridled cries of dismay while watching a particularly appalling outing by the Nats the other night.
The fruit of this transformation is not limited to goofing off. There are other benefits as well. So, last night a priest friend came over for something to eat and a conversation we had been trying to have for more than six months. It was lovely, much nicer than going out, and productive. I have a stack of things on my desk that I put there to take care of “when things quiet down.” It is amazing how much work I can get done in a few hours that would take days during a regular work week. Maybe it even helps if I change clothes and look and feel more like I am at the beach house than in the parish house. It’s hard to know without trying.
June is great. It not as blissful as August, mind you, but it is pretty good. I do hope to get away once or twice, this year likely in July. Fr. G has a big pilgrimage on the docket for early August. Sure it is nice to go on vacation, sometimes with people you do not have the opportunity to see the rest of the year. That’s when many people have to go on vacation because of their school and office schedules.
But those same school and office and vacation schedules mean that the Beltway-level traffic through my parlor diminishes, if not to a trickle, then maybe to a pleasant burble. Alas, the same is not true of the traffic on the driveway around my rectory, which occasionally approaches Beltway speeds, but that’s for another conversation. And it is a delight to live in a home instead of an office for a few weeks.
Sure, I'll enjoy a week or two of vacation this summer, mostly because it fits with other people’s plans. But Fr. Finch said it best: Why would I want to leave during the one time of year that it’s actually pleasant to live in my home?