The view from under our lilac bushes.
Today begins the gift of a fifteen week sabbatical. I have committed to posting every other week so I begin today.
This morning I awoke with a jerk and immediately thought I was late. This is funny because today is a school holiday so there are no sounds in the house or outside of children preparing for school. There was no reason for me to bolt upright in bed worried about the day. My arrival downstairs shocked my always early rising spouse and our dog.
I am not surprised by my early rising today, I expect this will last most of this first week and into the second. I have an excess of energy and my mind is rushing with all the tasks I think I need to be doing; those tasks I have handed over to others to do for this sabbatical. I know this feeling of needing to get things done will settle down as I ease into the rest of this sabbatical.
To help slow me down I am learning a poem today. I am memorizing “The World I Live In” by Mary Oliver, found on page five of her book Devotions, published in 2017 by Penguin Press. I am struck by the reality that I have lost some of my sense of wonder and am not watching for angels. Yesterday at our monthly session meeting (church board) the elders talked about watching for God and I realized how much I missed watching for God myself. I tell people about God all the time, I mention how I see God working in their lives daily, but I have lost the sense of wonder in watching for the Holy Spirit to work.
This first day of this sabbatical gift I am confronted with how I have closed my eyes. I am committed to opening them again so I can see the wider world.
Our child’s highchair and graduation gown.
In the last six days I have watched our oldest child receive their high school diploma and dropped them off for their summer dream job. That job will take them away from our home for the entire summer, returning with enough time to switch items in their suitcase before leaving again for college until the Thanksgiving holiday. I have rejoiced with our child, our family, our friends, and our worshipping community at these realized dreams. Yet, my heart is also sad because life has changed forever with these realized dreams.
All those years ago in the delivery room my husband and I chatted about what parenthood might be like, knowing we had no clue what was coming. Parenthood has been so much more than we ever anticipated or planned. I have a clear memory of saying in the delivery room, “I cannot do this.” Just as clear is the Labor & Delivery Nurse’s encouragement and response, “You are doing this.” I have held on to those words countless times over the years; on the nights when I was exhausted and our children were not sleeping; on the days when no amount of logic or reason could change our child’s behavior; in the moments when I realized how powerless I was to protect my children; and each time I had to watch my children fail so they would learn. At times I have clung to those words like a lifeline when I thought there was no way I could do this thing called parenting.
Those were the words I clung to as I drove away from our child, watching them walk away in the rear view mirror. I am so excited for our child’s adventures, and to be a part of all that is coming. Yet, letting go was the hardest act I have ever committed. In that moment I was transported to the moment of their birth when I thought there was no way I could do this, yet I did and I held that precious baby on my chest marveling at the gift of we had been given.
I did not think I could do this letting go, yet I did. Today I am doing it still. Tomorrow I will continue. I trust eventually this new stage of parenthood will become more than we ever anticipated or planned. I remain thankful for the nurse who assured me I could do this, for my partner in parenting, and for the children who are making my life more than I ever dreamed possible.