Every five years in the Methodist Church, ministers take a sabbatical – a three month ‘pause’ to renew and restore. The purpose of Sabbatical has its roots in the Biblical picture of Sabbath, and is about building periods of rest and rejuvenation into a lifetime. But it is also about taking the space and time needed to grow, to learn, to develop and study. Rather than an extended holiday, it is an opportunity to invest in our own spirituality and growth through stepping out of the routine and pace of ‘normal’ life, and slowing down long enough to be open to the new.
This year is my sabbatical year. Many of you know that my two week paddle around Mauritius formed part of my sabbatical, and now in July and August I will be taking the remainder of that time. This means I won’t preaching or coming into the office for these two months as I hit the pause button. As much as l am looking forward to this slower time, I know that the biggest challenge for me will be not filling the two months with endless lists of things to do, and not giving in to the daily struggle of not feeling productive unless I have accomplished something practical and measurable.
I know this because I have already made a ‘list of things to do while on Sabbatical’ :) On the list are things like the household tasks I never seem to have time for, as well as some studying, reading and writing projects. And while I don’t have big plans to paddle around any islands, I do plan to do some paddling and surfing locally, and to keep running. But I also hope to read my book in the sun and swim in the ocean and have coffee with friends and play with our children. I shall keep this John Lubbock quote before me as I head into this season of rest:
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
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