Many people leave southern Arizona during our hot summers—and this has been one of the hottest. As I’ve already noted, Henry and I took a four-week road trip earlier this summer. I also recently spent two weeks with my mom in the mountains of Colorado. On both occasions, I was surprised by strong feelings of not wanting to return home—and not because of the heat.
I’m a warm-weather lover, although I will admit that I prefer the triple-digit heat in small doses! I actually don’t mind summering in the Sonoran Desert, as long as I can remain indoors after my early morning walk. So, my feelings of discontent weren’t because of the weather.
Part of it was that I didn’t want my trips to end. This is a relatively new feeling for me, though it may be familiar to many of you. I’ve always been a homebody, being most comfortable in familiar territory. Yet after four weeks away from home, I wasn’t ready for the road trip to end. I had become accustomed to the rhythm of unloading and reloading the car, exploring a new town, and finding interesting places for dinner or a walk. I liked the chance to try new things, explore different places, and meet up with treasured friends and family.
It took me a few days of being home before I realized that what I didn’t want to face was the weight of responsibility at home. When we returned from the road trip, I was faced with a drip system that had come apart, killing at least one plant and devastating others. I listened to the air conditioner struggle and realized that I couldn’t put off getting it serviced any longer. (It turns out those struggles were real. Our eighteen-year-old machine was failing in half a dozen different ways, so we dug into our rainy-day [baking-hot-sunny-day?!] fund and have a new HVAC system.)
Dreading that weight of responsibility is a relatively new thing for me. I’ve generally been a pretty responsible person. The success of my solopreneur small business is testament to that. I’ve been proud of owning a home and felt privileged to be able to maintain it well. But something is shifting in me. Conversations with my mom and friends who live in apartments or condos have helped me see some benefits—and some drawbacks—of having others take responsibility for yard and building maintenance.
Perhaps this is part of a broader shift too, in terms of what types of responsibility I want to shoulder. Those friends and family members are aging and moving into new stages of their lives. They are lightening their loads of responsibility in different ways. I’ve recognized for a long time that I can’t hold the weight of responsibility for the entire world (even in prayer), but these days I’m discovering how little I want to be responsible at all.
So, we shall see what unfolds for me in the weeks and months ahead. I’m sure I can’t resign from everything, all at once. But perhaps the Spirit is guiding me to be ready to let go of responsibility for a few more things.
On this Labor(!) Day, I invite you to ponder your responsibilities. How tightly or loosely do you hold them? What would it take for you to imagine letting go of a few?