Every year about this time Susan goes on her one-week theology course and I take annual leave and do her paper deliveries.
Of course I do not have to take a full week off to do two mornings' work. The University, in response to pesterings for higher pay, has gradually, over the 23 years I have worked in my present job, increased our annual leave (well, yes, we have had pay rises, as well, but would have preferred more pay and less leave). So now I get six - I believe that is correct - weeks' annual leave, in addition, of course, to statutory holidays of which I think we in New Zealand have more than the United States.
So in addition to taking leave on Fridays before concert week-ends and the Monday following, I take three weeks' leave starting the Monday after Palm Sunday. It is admittedly restful and pleasant, and that is why Johnny came at that time.
The week-end following Easter - the week-end of Divine Mercy Sunday - is the Eucharistic Convention which Sue and I attended - and a wonderful time it is, too.
And the Monday after - today, in fact - Susan goes to Auckland for one week.
So I am alone. Johnny left Friday the 17th. Susan left today, Monday the 20th. She will come home this coming Saturday, the 25th - ANZAC Day!
I always feel that this week of solitude should be a bit of a retreat time for me: a time for prayer, meditation, resolutions. And in a way, it is.
On retreat, too, I am restless; must frequently resist temptations to break the solitude by talking to others; spend time being 'busy' rather than in prayer. Now of course I am not on retreat. Nevertheless, I am alone and, difficult - extremely difficult! - as that is for me, I think it is a good thing that I deliberately choose some silence, some apparent idleness, and some practice of the presence of God. It is a gift. My solitude is a gift. It is a eucharistic - a 'thanksgiving' - gift. Let me learn truly to appreciate it rather than to run from it.