At evening prayer tonight we had the end of Galatians 5, with the wonderful description of the fruits of the spirit - love, joy, peace, gentleness etc. I quote that passage a lot, as I have always felt that the presence of those fruits is a pretty solid indicator of the Spirit's presence and blessing.
Which gives rise to a practical issue for me...
Two weeks ago Beloved and I had a very romantic Valentine's Day taking the family off to Ikea at Lakeside - this was a Wednesday, and the most significant thing about it was that it was followed by a Thursday, which happens to my day off. Yes, in the light of previous discussions, I had managed to wrangle two consecutive days off. And the effect was truly remarkable. According to Beloved, in the days following I was manifestly more relaxed and 'present', in particular I was much less angry and short tempered, I was happier to be with the kids and more likely to build the occasional Brio digger. The fruits of the spirit were manifest - and the effect lasted until everyone got ill the week following and I got knackered again. (I'm still knackered as I write this - I'll come back to that).
The point of this? That the target of 40 hours might not be the best parameter to set - perhaps the best parameter to set would be to establish a weekend. Two consecutive days off. One to spend with family, do all the practical things (like building Ikea shelves...) and one to have as a genuine sabbath and refreshment. After all, that is the way of the modern world. What is the theological justification for restricting clergy time off to one day a week when the world is having two? (And consider what sort of pace can be sustained by the people who have weekends during the five days when they are at work...) The world is having two days off in a context when the workload on the clergy is shooting up due to the contraction in numbers - and the church still thinks it is reasonable to expect clergy to have just the one day off - to put into that day all the various needs and obligations that for everyone else can be spread out amongst not just a weekend but (often) nights as well.
Hang on, I'll try not to whinge.
Thing is, that benefit from the two consecutive days off was dissipated pretty swiftly. If I was able to sustain the rhythm of two days off I'm sure my capacity for creativity would increase. One indication for me - I've got several posts that I've been wanting to write for a while: a reply to Piers on Intelligent Design; something defending Rowan; and something reviewing this book, which stirred up a lot in me. Yet I can only write and be fruitful in that sense - a sense which I do see as core to my vocation - on the back of a sufficient quantity of rest. I am like a glass of seawater. It is only when it has been left to stand for long enough that the material clarifies and all the mud falls to the bottom.
So this is turning into the practical upshot of those discussions: to move towards having a weekend. Every week.