May your life preach more loudly than your lips. –William Ellery Channing
It takes the actual encounter of sabbatical to truly understand the need for one. It took me a good two or three weeks to slow down enough to be able to see what was going on around me. And now, upon return to church it’ll take a couple more to figure out how to, “get up to speed”. I’m sure it’ll take me that long to catch up with what I’ve missed, with what you’re up to personally, and as a congregational whole.
I will bring back with me an open mind and an open heart, ready to listen to your experiences and growth. In my family life, I am well aware that transition time, the daily coming and goings, let alone the returning after an extended time away, can often bring with it, not only excitement but some expectations and imaginations of how things will (or ought to) be. When I return to my house after a long absence, I envision big hugs and joyous reunion. But sometimes, my cats just plain ol’ ignore me. I find that I have to give them a little time to adjust to my scurrying about and desire for renewed intimacy. I know that you likely won’t ignore me, but I do know you’ve been doing things somewhat differently and likely have good reason for so doing. I will do my best to tread lightly.
And yet, I do look forward to sharing with you what I have learned during my time away. I have a colleague who after her own time away shared a posting on her Facebook page, “Remember: don’t come back to church ready to implement everything I learned on my sabbatical!” And I will head that reminder. In the wish to not forget what I have learned, I need not foist it upon you, but instead I will find a way to tuck it away, for my own memory, and then slowly share, when, where and if needed.
As I come back to my role as parish minister, I plan on leaving chunks of time available to meet with you, to catch up with you, to discover with you, what you’ve been through in your days, and what life transitions you’ve made. I look forward to being with you again, for one of the greatest holes I’ve had during this fallow time, is that of the joy of deep engagement in religious community.
May my life with you preach ever more loudly than my mouth. I am in gratitude for this time that has allowed for spaciousness to do and be and learn and reflect.