It is a bit daunting to begin a sabbatical, especially one which is done in relationship with a larger community. At the base of a sabbatical is the need to return and renew, to rediscover the love and passion for Jesus. After years of ministry there have developed patterns of work and ways of getting things done. The simple act of preaching every week is one that develops a pattern of research and a library of thoughts that might be effective but they can become a hindrance to new ways, thoughts, and engagement with God. The comparison to a long time marriage is very helpful to me. Over time a couple develop a style of living with each other, it is easy to simply take the other for granted. After years of such living a retreat or time together to meet each other apart from these established patterns might bring up new aspects and changes that have emerged unnoticed by perhaps both people. How do they fall in love again, will they fall in love again and what changes will that bring? Do I want to face the changes that might emerge from a new look at my life with my God, the love of all that I am. Am I willing to open up again all that I am? It is what will bring me to new depths of love and of myself, I know, but do I really want to go there or do I want to stay in the familiar?
My familiar stresses, concerns, worry and prayers that I have befriended are old companions. I long for God to answer prayers I have held before Him for years, yet do I want to re-think and re-structure my habits and communicate more openly with others about this very private work?
I find myself a bit nervous as well as excited. It is one thing to long to be in love, but then to be in the moment when one needs to act upon it is unnerving.
I am also finding that the letting go of all the details of my work is a hard thing and something that is taking time.