Today we slept LATE - shared tea and the NY Times on the deck - and then weeded part of the garden: it was another blessed Sabbath rest in the Berkshires. We also spent time talking about the New Jewish Annotated New Testament, building and strengthening the artistic expression of our church band (Between the Banks) and grooving to the Montreal Jazz Festival later this month. (OMG: Bill Frissell will be at Club Soda as will Esperanza Spalding and Victor Wooten. Jack Bruce and Ron Carter, too!) NOTE: I LOVE the scene at Montreal's CLUB SODA. It is a small venue with a real alt/metal feel that is totally comfortable hosting the most incredible types of music. We saw the Cinematic Orchestra there four years ago and have never been the same because it was so creative, alive and intimate. I can't wait to go back...
As the day ripened, we talked about my sabbatical in a year or two: there is a helpful and insightful process set up by the Lily Foundation that encourages pastors and congregations to work together and help their clergy person find a way to renew his/her soul and keep fresh and engaged for ministry. I know that after five years of serious work I am growing physically tired. And while I LOVE this gig - it is a blessing and we're just starting to go into deep territory on so many levels - I need refreshment, too. Even though I practice reasonably good self care, I've never taken a real sabbatical in almost 30 years of ordained ministry. So... to everything there is a season, yes?
So we're starting to think about what it would mean for me to take 3+ months in Montreal doing jazz bass lessons along with French language work. Music is such a key component of my spiritual life and our renewal work at church that I sense going deeper in study and practice - and exploring the writing of others doing jazz liturgy - would be just what the doctor ordered for my heart, soul and body. And doing all of this in another context - my heart soars in Montreal - would be sweet beyond comprehension. There are a lot more of things to explore about this, to be sure, but I think the essence of a sabbatical is beginning to emerging.
A poem from Wendell Berry's sabbath writings comes to mind:
A man with some authentic worries
And many vain and silly ones,
I am well-schooled in sleeplessness;
I know it from the inside out.
I breathe, and I know what's at stake.
But still sometimes I'm sane and sound,
However heart or head may ache;
I go to sleep when I lie down.
With no determined care to breathe,
I breathe and live and sleep and take
A sabbath from my weariness.
I rest in an unasking trust
Like clouds and ponds and stones and trees.
The long-arising Day will break
If I should die before I wake.
Tomorrow there is grass to cut and weeds to pull - and maybe "Snow White" to see in our favorite little cinema. This has been another blessed and restful Sabbath - and I am grateful to God.