Monday, July 08, 2013

So this is a weekend?

One of the enduring memories of last year is my introduction to Downton Abbey. I'd never heard of it before arriving here in Boston but a number of my community members raved about it and, one evening after supper, we repaired to the tv room and watched the first installment from Season 1, Episode 1.

I was hooked immediately.

The great take-away line, captured in this short clip, comes from the Dowager - played by Maggie Smith - who betrays the style of life to which she has grown accustomed when she inquires, "What, what is a weekend?" You can catch this below:

To be honest, I sort of resonate with this question: for the past three months, I have spent just about every weekend doing something involved with Irish dancing. For those unfamiliar with my particular avocation, I play the accordion for Irish dancing competitions (feiseanna) throughout New England and, time permitting, across the country. It's a labor of love and probably has influenced my notion of what it means to be a priest more than anything else I have ever done.

That said, it was refreshing to have a whole weekend to myself. I went out to dinner with Boston friends on Friday and then spent time catching up with a good friend at a local bar. On Saturday, I had the leisure time to read my book and cook dinner for friends. It was nothing fancy - BBQ shredded chicken, roasted brussel sprouts, garden salad with a homemade tangy vinaigrette, and a blueberry-peach cobbler with a really delicious streusel topping. We complemented this with a few bottles of wine  outside, sharing laughter and stories, as the sun made its way past the horizon.

Were I to make an assessment, I'd have to say that this has been the best of my Jesuit summers. I've been able to do three things I love: play music, read, and study. I've had more than sufficient time for prayer and reflection and I've managed to get a few writing projects underway, one of which will be appearing in a book to be published next Spring.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about my own struggles with anxiety. Looking back on it, I suspect it was an almost inevitable occurrence: I went from running at a breakneck pace as a high school teacher to the gentle jog of graduate studies. Last semester, in particular, I took a heavy course load and intentionally kept my playing schedule relatively light. My learning: I'm better when busy! I think having too many free weekends proved counter-productive. In short, the busier I am, the more productive I am, and the calmer I am.

That said, I feel great. I'm really excited for my annual retreat at the end of the month and I'm excited to go home to Cleveland and Detroit in August. Of course, I'll be posting along the way but I wanted to give a bit of an update on things for those who track the progress of this Jesuit's Journey!

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