Sabbatical thoughts - part three...

Saturday night my sweetheart said to me, "Ok, tell me about all those tears?"  Not exactly in those words, but that was the intent because she has been concerned about me - a lot.  So for the next hour I let it all out.  And what I came to realize (in a very shortened way) is that for good or ill I have been carrying around 30+ years of heart-breaking stories in my heart.  My weariness is NOT about the past six years at First Church - although they play a part - but rather it is about the burden of accumulated grief.

And when I finally found THOSE words, she got it.  It is not just the wounds of an often dysfunctional family.  Nor is it the pressures of trying to do church renewal work for the past 20 years.  And it isn't just the grief of losing family members to death and addiction.  It IS carrying the memories and experiences of 30+ years of sharing the faith journeys of a variety of profoundly broken people.  And as much as I am able to compartmentalize, it has become clear to me that no matter how hard I try many of these wounds are still alive and traumatic for me.  Is that true for other pastors?  I don't really know... but I am going to find out

At any rate, beyond the limits of my current ministry, one of the
reasons why this Sabbatical has held such depth and pathos is that it has evoked all these stories and all this accumulated grief. Not in a grandiose way (I hope) but in a way that has helped me understand why my weariness feels so oppressive.  Small wonder that what I yearn for most is a time to be still - and prayerful - and practice music in my favorite place on earth:  Montreal.  It feels restorative - cleansing - and liberating.

The Lilly Foundation notes that a true Sabbatical can be life changing. Already the application process has been clarifying in ways I would never have imagined. Tomorrow (after my preparation for Advent I) I will sketch my hopes and plans for my part of the Sabbatical and why it matters to me.  Again, so many thanks for your notes and insights.

graphic - Jan Richardson


Anonymous said…
I've been reading your series of posts on your upcoming sabbatical and holding off responding because I am not sure what to say other than thank you - for sharing these thoughts and insights, and everything else.

You speak not to where I am, but to where I can see myself eventually, and to where I can see some of my senior colleagues a lot sooner than that. Not that any two people tell the same story, but yours resonates with what I know about a few folks who really need a break.

In reflecting on this I'm having the odd thought that in some ways ministry is a lot like being a professional human being - taking the art of being here to a level that most folks don't get the opportunity or obligation to do. I know the last year of my spiritual journey is one I wouldn't wish on anybody nor would I trade it for the world. And I am at the beginning.

Hope you guys have a rockin' good time on Wednesday night and a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Peter said…
God walk with you in the days leading up to your time away (and toward), and during the journey, my man.

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