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I’m a morning person. Sleeping late means getting up at 6am. I could be up and going as early as 3:30, and usually no later than 5.
The last three days of my sabbatical, I awoke at 7:15 (I hadn’t slept past 7am in decades), then 7:30, and the very last day at 8:15am. It felt like an extravagance. And that was after taking naps the previous days.
I came back to my office as rested and relaxed and refreshed as I had been in years. Even on zoom calls, people were telling me how relaxed I appeared.
I love the work I am called to do – I really do. It is hard and challenging and taxing and exhausting and at times frustrating. But none of that detracts from how much I love doing it. In some odd way, all of that adds to the experience for me. I love facing challenges and puzzles and problems and working with really smart, talented people to try and find logical and life-giving pathways through those obstacles.
There is an intensity of focus and a high level of attention that I must function with through long hours every day. Doing that day after day takes a toll on my mental, spiritual, and physical well-being.
The gift of pausing for two months and letting go of the matters that require the focus and attention was a gift. After taking a week or so to decompress and adjust to this new way of being and breathing, I began to embody levels of relaxation and rest heretofore unknown in this office.
I wish to express my gratitude for this gift of renewal. I want to thank my Board of Directors for supporting a time of absence. I want to thank my HR director, who has been a long-time champion for this as a part of our benefits package. I want to thank my Senior Leadership Team for continuing to lead with excellence and confidence, making important and hard decisions without needing to seek me out. I want to thank Traci Blackmon, who served as Acting General Minister and President and by doing so allowed me to really let go without worry or concern. I want to thank an entire staff whose high functioning and excellence continued to manifest itself each and every day. I want to thank Jess Chancy. Their willingness to post for me on this podcast every week was an extraordinary accomplishment for which I am deeply grateful. And I want to thank the Church and denomination for creating within the culture a growing awareness of why these times of renewal matter.
I am back. I am ready again to serve, and in the serving give myself wholly and completely to a labor of love I take great joy in undertaking.
I know we won’t all get the gift of a sabbatical. I know we are all living through the kinds of challenges that weary the soul and exhaust the body.
If there is any wisdom to share on the other side of this experience, it would be this: find your sabbath where and when you can get it. Walks or naps or day trips or weekend getaways or binge watching your favorite Netflix show or an hour with your favorite album or visits to beloved family members or wasted time on the couch reading a good book with your favorite beverage or a warm fire in the den or giving yourself permission to sleep past 8am.
Whatever it is, promise yourself respite from the intensity of life. The simple stated that God rested was intended to remind us how precious taking a break really is. May your spirit be uplifted and refreshed by intermittent sabbath rest on this, your journey Into the Mystic.
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