A number of years ago when I was perusing the bookstore shelves in search of a new journal, I was encouraged to choose the one without lines. But the lines are there to keep my handwriting neat, I protested, so that it doesn’t slope down the page or get smaller or larger. The lines help keep me on task, with each page matching the one before. Those line-less books are for drawing, not writing!
When I was at the halfway point of my internship year, my teaching minister told me that I had spent enough time on the “doing” of ministry and I now needed to focus on the “being” of ministry. How to do that? That was the more difficult half of the year.
Never a fan of the 50’s sitcom I Love Lucy, I somehow keep seeing that scene of Lucy and Ethel trying to please by wrapping chocolates passing at an incessant pace, finally shoving them into their necklines, hats and squirrel-cheeked mouths.
Where is there room for creativity when the belt is speeding by? How can I practice ministry when there’s no space for reflection? How can we have vision when all the pages are already lined out for us?
Not many vocations have what feels the luxury of a sabbatical. Ministry is one of the few. Yet, as I prepare for a time of rest, a time to “rest and let the ground lie fallow” I know that room will be created on the page, the conveyer belt will decelerate, the mind and heart will find room for the being.
On my sabbatical, on which I will mostly stay close by and focus on my love of music, I will strive to find ways to bring more creativity to our vocal community. For this four-month period from January through April, I’ve got plans to take lessons, and for doing a bit of research, but mostly, I want to make room on my page to let the spirit move me. I hope that during the time I’m gone, you’ll do some exploration of your own, whether that’s in new insights from worship, taking on a new role at church or finding your own creative voice. I will share more details about the sabbatical in worship, and the sabbatical committee is taking every measure to make sure details are in place so that things run smoothly while I’m gone. In May, when I return, we can share with each other all that we’ve learned.
In the meantime, I’m going to try to consider my blank page (no lines), the importance of “being” in ministry, and the fact that more chocolates pass me by than I could ever manage, as good examples for my creative spirit. To “hail a new creation,” I need room for the old to pass away and for everything to become new.