Friday, February 4, 2011

Unplanned sabbaticals

In interim ministry, I often look at the calendar in anticipation of the next pastor's arrival. I usually exhale, much like the congregation. Sometimes my exhale lasts a few months after I say my thank yous and good byes to my partners in ministry. This will be my last unplanned sabbatical.

I always have a few projects and goals. Envelop myself as a house husband for a few months. Clip more coupons, find where I can buy the cheapest fresh spinach, work toward a deeper sense of household feng shui. Write more. Exercise more. Read more Bible. Facilitate more peace for wife and daughters through order, sleep better, and purge the stuff that creeps into the house, multiplying like termites. Too much plastic, too much paper, too many unused tools. They all sounded good at first glance, but they all clog my life as my pores clogged as a teenager. Sabbatical is more than rest. Sabbatical works like astringent.

I have a project that continues to provoke my soul, and it feels like make or break time. I don't need money. I only need time. I haven't given up on the dream of another degree. The formal path does not work for my family and me. If I am truly passionate about religion in the Salish Sea region, the research and information gathering beckons. It matters not whether others find it interesting, because it is the story of my life to be learned and told. My sabbatical is one month away. Intentional rest, intentional work. Outside of visiting my brother in Edmonton, I will avoid driving, for that has been my part-time job during my current interim ministry. Commuting alone (or with my daughters) by car kills me.

During my longer tenure as a house husband, I embodied a few lessons taught to me by monks in the District of Columbia and my spiritual director in Sioux Falls.

1. Raising young children is similar to a monastic life.
2. Manual labor is a form of prayer.

Though networking will be on my sabbatical agenda (the next ministry awaits on the other side). I hope the wisdom of God and my prayers and the prayers of those who love me will shape my next season of life and ministry. God saw that the creation was good in sabbatical, and I am visualizing the most fulfilling unplanned sabbatical yet. I know it won't completely go in the rudimentary plans I formulate today, but I know the Holy Spirit will move in those days.

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