Sabbatical cometh

May 25, 2011

This is my last Musing before starting a Sabbatical. 

The notion of Sabbatical has it roots in the biblical call to allow the land to lie fallow every seventh year.  “Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord” (Leviticus 25:3-4).  It was an extension of the weekly Sabbath, and itself is extended in the Year of Jubilee, a Sabbatical of Sabbaticals, after seven sets of seven years.  A common feature of all of these was a freedom of renewal and creativity (for people, animals, and land) that comes from ceasing from the regular routine and returning to a basic orientation of gratitude and enjoyment of relationships.

One of the ways that I have found it helpful to think about Sabbatical has been in keeping with the agricultural connections.  It is a time to harvest, to sow, to tend, and lie fallow.

Harvest – After five years of ministry with you all there is much that I have learned.  One of the things I am looking forward to is reading over some of my journals throughout the last number of years, enjoying past thoughts and experiences. 

Sow – I’ll have time available to explore and do some expanded study in areas of interest.  My time and work on the farm will put me daily in touch with the earth, and how ecology connects with the big economy of life.  Wendell Berry writes a lot about this.  I’m also looking forward to a weeklong course on trees of the temperate forest in south central Ohio.  I got more interested in trees when we were selecting a tree to plant in memory of Belle and I realized that I didn’t know a thing about them.  Other study during this time will include connecting an evolutionary understanding of creation with spirituality.  Plus I’ll be literally sowing seeds in the garden on the farm.

Tend – Tending relationships with family and friends outside of the congregational setting is something I’ll treasure during this time.  Abbie and the girls and I will be together regularly, and I’ll be working alongside my mom and dad; next door to my sister, brother-in-law, and their four young boys.  I am asking friends to read certain books with me so we can talk about them together and use that as a way of furthering our friendship.

Lying Fallow – A major part of this is that I won’t be actively engaged in congregational life as a pastor.  But for me this also means play, recreation, and a week vacation to celebrate ten years of marriage with Abbie. 

Other aspects of the Sabbatical that I’m looking forward to that could fit into multiple of the above categories include a weeklong retreat at Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky (next week!), an online seminar about what evolution has to teach us about healthy living and spirituality, planting and tending a three sisters garden (corn, squash, beans), taking the girls to swimming lessons with their cousins, visiting other churches on Sundays, doing some writing about whatever thoughts come up through reading, reflection, and farm work.   

This Sunday I’ll reflect further on Sabbatical and connecting it with our journey together as a congregation.

Although there will be not be regular weekly Musings during the summer, I do intend to occasionally post thoughts and reflections on this blog and invite you to check in from time to time.

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