This sabbatical leave will make in indelible imprint on my life like few other trips ever have. First, I am incredibly grateful for a church like Montecito Covenant to “give me” three months paid leave with no agenda. I did not have to report of produce, just renew. That kind of soul-gift is so rare in our culture! I experienced that same generosity during my firs sabbatical in 2000 from Salem Covenant Church. So I begin these reflections with deep and abiding gratefulness!
Sabbatical leave for me is less about accomplishing something, than about creating an alternative community. It’s about settling in to another place and another routine that rejuvenates and revives. For me (us) it is this little village in southern France we have been returning to over and over again since 2000. We have slowly accumulated deep and good friends, particularly the Pizant family (pictured above). I have found a French pastor/friend who understands me and whom I understand. We take trips together and have long meals and conversations (such as they are with his good English and my awful French).
This alternative community brings its own patterns and routines, none of which involve my leadership, but rather, participation as a lay-person. I have worshiped in seven different congregations (all French speaking) over these last three months. I have been ushered into great worship without always understanding the words being spoken. I have been bored and distracted and also deeply moved.
Sabbatical gave me a taste of open evenings every night after a long, lingering meal with Martha. I think that is the one thing I will miss the most, knowing that evening meetings are a necessity for churches and pastors today.
I have lived watch-less since my battery died…and I’m OK. For those of you who know how time-obsessed I am, that’s a big deal. I’m actually wondering about not putting a watch back on again!
The Bible, and especially this time, the Gospels have crackled to life for their own sake. I cannot get enough of just lingering for an hour or more in the life and stories of Jesus. I “fell of the wagon” for a couple of days (when the ATM card went goofy) and checked emails first. What a great way to destroy a prayer life for me. I need Bible and coffee before news, email, facebook or breakfasts with friends.
But it’s time to go back. Time to go back to what I love, to what I’m called to do and back to the community I love.