Taking time off is hard work

By Curtis K. Shelburne: Guest columnist

I’ve been working at home on this Monday morning.
 
Like many preachers and, come to think of it, folks from another honorable profession, barbers, I often try to take at least some time off on Mondays, though it often doesn’t work.
 
When it does, then sometimes on Mondays I’m mowing the yard, puttering about in the garage, or spending some time exploring outlying roads on my motorcycle. Often it means that instead of working in my study at the church on the desktop computer, I’m working at home on my laptop computer. At least at home I get to wear gym shorts and go barefoot. Taking Monday off usually means burning some midnight oil later in the week, but it’s worth it.
 
By the way, opinions on this among clergy vary. My younger brother takes Fridays off. Mondays are too close to Sundays. He says he’d hate to feel that bad on his day off.
 
One thing’s sure, I think. If you don’t take some time off on purpose you won’t take time off at all, and you’ll be worth a lot less when you’re not “off” (or at least as close to it as any “on call” 24-hour-a-day job allows). Strange. We live in a society where taking time off requires more discipline than working constantly. (Research says that on the scale of hours worked per week, Americans are up there pretty high. But we’re not “up there” on productivity. Hmm.)
 
We’ve got a holiday this week. I’m glad, but like many folks, I’m working extra hours to be able to take the time off for the holiday down the line.  I don’t care to do the math and find out “actual hours off.”
 
Working at home this morning, I glanced out the window and noticed that my hummingbird feeders are empty.
 
I love hummingbirds and have been trying to attract a few. I like birds in general, except grackles. I hear some grackles are endangered. I don’t believe it, but I hope so. If the last living pair of grackles decides to take a dip in my bird bath, I hope they get cramps from chowing down on my birdseed before swimming and drown.
 
In my yard I’ve seen grackles aplenty, but only one hummingbird. And now I’m worried about him. My first recipe of hummingbird nectar called for red food coloring. Now I hear that red food coloring isn’t good for hummingbirds, that it can cause several problems including mutations.
 
Great. I fed one little hummingbird. Now I’m picturing a massive, mutated, 10-pound, evil, grackle-looking thing with fangs where its little beak once was, coming out only at night to swoop down and carry away small household pets.
 
Well, I had good intentions.
 
But if you live near our house, I’d be on the lookout for a mutated hummingbird.

I think I’ll break from work for awhile and make some more nectar. No food-coloring this time.

I’m thankful for grace, both from any hummingbirds I’ve unwittingly poisoned and from the God who created the little guys. I suppose he made grackles, too, but I’d rather not dwell on that.