Sabbatical, Day Twenty-Nine

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Arches National Park

Yesterday I sat in the sanctuary of Second Presbyterian Church of Albuquerque for the second time.  It is a beautiful building, full of symbols that I find at home or in other PCUSA congregations around the country.  Last time I visited I was greeted warmly by many people, and this time I was greeted even more warmly by some of the people who remembered meeting me three years ago.  I love sitting in the pew in the sanctuary, attempting to follow the cadence and language of this worshipping community.  I love feeling connected to others even as I am away from the community I call home.

Yesterday, I sat swinging my legs in the pew because I am too short for my feet to reach the floor if I sit back in the pew.  The act of swinging my legs was as delightful the second time as the first, I felt like a child enjoying the moment.  I was seated between a friend who has walked beside me all these years as I learn to be a pastor, and my second child who has only known me as a pastor. I sat between these two people I love, who love me, and I listened to another  friend lead a worship service that felt created for me to find God.  The announcements, joys, concerns, and an update of the asylum seeker and refugee ministry were all the things I needed to hear.  The prayers and hymns in Spanish and English felt as if they were cracking open my heart so the words of the sermon could be felt.

Most days, I create worship services for others.  I know the limitations of a pastor in creating a worship service; and how easily Sunday becomes a habit instead an expectation of having your heart cracked open so you can feel.  Understanding how easy it is to forget to expect I will encounter God in worship, I treasure the moments I get to follow instead of lead because it changes my perspective.

Yesterday, I was given the privilege of sitting in a pew, a privilege I do not want to waste.  I learned how another worshipping community is living their faith and call to serve God and others.  I was reminded that I too am loved by God in all my brokenness, and in fact my brokenness is often used for good.   I tell this to others daily, but to hear it spoken to me was life giving.

Yesterday I was told I was loved by the God who created the sandstone beauty I saw and touched today.  I am not sure how to explain how I needed to be reminded that words I regularly proclaim to others are also for me.  But I did.

Thank you to the pastor and the community who welcomed me and reminded me I am loved too.

Sabbatical, Day Fifteen

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Some of the books I have read so far; the others have been loaned out.

Based upon all I have learned from more experienced clergy and read in books my current state of being is just fine.  I have mostly stopped jumping out of bed thinking I am behind schedule.  I have reduced the number of to do lists I have been scrawling on scraps of paper.  I have experienced the crushing emotional weight when I realized I could not answer the hospital call I received.  I have felt the guilt that comes when others make comments about not having adequate vacation time, let alone employment that allows them to receive the gift of a sabbatical.  I have even cleaned some parts of our home that had not been cleaned in some time.

Seven months ago when this sabbatical was approved I was shocked when I did not immediately feel refreshed and restored.  I laugh in disbelief at myself then and laugh still.  For whatever reason my mind believed once the sabbatical was approved I would feel as if I had taken a sabbatical already.  That same kind of thinking followed me all through the planning stages and into these first weeks.  For some reason I thought handing over my keys and shutting off my cell phone would make me feel completely rested, even when logic tells me this is not likely.

Since I am slow in slowing down I have managed to read half of the books from my sabbatical reading list.  Though it has felt luxurious to finish one book and pick up another without worrying about what tasks I should be doing instead.  It has felt wonderful to be in conversation with these authors.  As we have traveled north and south to join some of our dearest friends in their celebrations the landscape and time have given me ample opportunity to ruminate on what I am learning.  I am looking forward to the rest of the books in my pile and maybe discovering a few new books.

I am also hopeful the next two weeks will find me enjoying the rest I have been given.  I believe it is possible, even if I might have to create a to do list for how to make that happen.