Dan and I walk side by side in silence; the only sound is the crunching of leaves under our feet and the shrill chirp of chipmunks. Every now and then we are rewarded with the sight of wildlife; a doe and her two fawns, squirrels, or a garter snake, slithering across the path to get out of our way. The air smells sweet and earthy. The forest air is thick and humid. It is our place to retreat and reconnect.
There aren't many forests in Central New York and we are happy to have this little oasis. I mentioned to Dan yesterday that the minute I leave the car and begin walking here, I feel the burden lifting from my shoulders and my head clearing.
Being in full-time ministry isn't easy. So many people look at the pastorate with scorn. They think it's a cushy job and the joke is that pastors work one day a week. And the truth is at times it is unique because of the flexibility many pastors have. But it's also a job where your brain never shuts off. You are on call 24/7. Emergencies don't schedule themselves and you have the burden of providing spiritual care for a group of people who have many expectations.
If the church isn't growing, people look at the pastor and wonder, "Why not?" If you there is something going wrong, the pastor shoulders the responsibility. People call us to help solve their marital issues, their family issues, and a host of other problems. There is not a moment of the day that we are not thinking about or praying for someone's problems and there is a level of shouldering their burden as well.
I'm not complaining because both Dan and I love what we do. I just know that we need moments away and a place to go that feels like a retreat from the world. It's a place where we can shut off the cell phones and interest. A place where we can connect with each other as a couple. A place where we can be silent.
I'm so thankful for our forest oasis.