Before I reflect on the second month of my sabbatical, a note...
I started planning my sabbatical in August 2019, wanting to give myself and the congregation time to plan and prepare for my absence. I chose the September-November timeframe to avoid missing specific seasons of the church life - Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter, summer camp and mission trips. It wasn't until this past summer that I realized my schedule meant I would not be actively serving a congregation on election day.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't relieved. I am grateful for the unintentional gift of not having to find the right ministerial words to say before and after a contentious election. Four years ago, I was on vacation on election day. I was actually staying in the same room in my parents' house where I will be tonight.
As I benefit from the ability to lay my minister hat aside during this time, my prayers are with my colleagues caring for congregations, family, and themselves while attending to the Spirit's guiding and the needs of their community today and in the coming days.
With the arrival of election day, I have also entered the last third of my sabbatical time.
While my first month was spacious time in the mountains, this past month I have had the opportunity to connect with friends, colleagues, mentors, and family. Less deep thoughts, more hugs. Another chance to settle in - with other people this time! - is a comfort as COVID numbers have started increasing.
I'm enjoying homecooked meals made by someone else (thanks Mom and Dad!). I got cuddles and quality time with my three nieces (even if it meant I also had to help them move). I had an outdoor lunch with a ministry friend and outdoor coffee with my high school best friend which made me thankful for mild fall days in NC. Yesterday I got to have lunch with a mentor turned friend who is one of my biggest cheerleaders.
For meaningful conversations and words of affirmation I am grateful.
I have continued to connect virtually with the churches of my friends and colleagues. Soaking up their words of wisdom and witnessing the many ways churches are finding to share their witness and spirit with the world. In one day I worshiped with people in New York City, Kentucky, and Colorado.
Month 2 had a different rhythm and purpose than my month at Christmount but the hectic days with my nieces and the four hour round trip drive to see friends were restorative in their own way. I am thankful for the time to find renewal in these different rhythms and places.
The month ahead is a hodge-podge - more time with family, a still very tentative couple of days in Kentucky (dang COVID), a week long solo retreat for reflection and re-entry, and Thanksgiving week back at home before returning to work just in time for Advent.
For the next few weeks my prayer is I am able to stay present in each day and continue to find spaciousness and connection to renew my soul for the work God is calling me to.
I may be missing my cat, but my mom's cats Cream (pictured)
and Tiger have been generous with their cuddles.