I’m doing something a little out of character: taking a sabbatical.
“But didn’t you just start working at the Cathedral?!,” I hear you say. “Surely you don’t need a sabbatical already?!”
Still in my own habits, I started to write out a long explanation wherein I defended my choice to take a sabbatical. I was going to write about how the opportunity presented itself, about how it’s only a month, about how my colleagues are taking time off during the summer, about…, about…, about…
And then I paused, thought for a hot second, and deleted all the half-assed defensive rhetoric.
I’m taking a sabbatical because I need one. An opportunity for some rest and reflection presented itself and, thanks to the exceptional flexibility of my colleagues at the Cathedral and at Saint John’s, I was able to answer the call. I’ll be spending one month at The Bishop’s Ranch, a camp and retreat center of the Episcopal Diocese of California. My room and board is provided by the Ranch in exchange for liturgical leadership, spiritual care, hospitality, and presence. While some might see that as work, those are the things that truly invigorate me and allow the opportunity to reconnect–with others, with God, and with myself.
To nobody’s great surprise, I’ve been reading about sabbaticals in the weeks leading up to my own. Many people take on a project during their sabbaticals (in addition to the obvious project of rest and relaxation.)
As I was thinking about what sort of project I would work on–something small, given the short time frame–I decided to leave plenty of room for the Spirit to do her thing and nudge me in the right direction.
The Spirit in the person of my dear friend mo prompted me toward my course of reflection:
This month will be the first time that I’ve lived alone in my whole life. To be certain, there will be plenty of people at the Bishop’s Ranch–other staff, campers, retreatants, etc., but none of them will be sharing living space with me (at least to my knowledge — who knows!) In any case, I intend on taking this short period of reflection and getting to know myself better with it. I’m not entirely sure how that will manifest itself tangibly, but I’m confident that, by August 31, I’ll know and love myself better than I ever thought imaginable.
And so I’m launching this temporary series here at Coram Deo (he said, as if he blogs with enough frequency to even have series) : Sabbatical Sundries. I’m hoping to share some (though certainly not all or even most) of my “to thine own self be true” insights in addition to various miscellanea that I find interesting along the way.
For example! I’m driving to The Bishop’s Ranch with my dad. It’s a long road trip, but so far so good. I’m writing from an RV in rural Rapid City, SD, a terrific AirBnB find (I’d recommend Jim to anybody looking for a quiet, cozy stay in the badlands.) I’ve driven through Rapid City before and, like most places in South Dakota, I didn’t pay much attention (mea culpa.)
But this time–first the first time–I noticed the absolute beauty of the mountains. A terrific perspective of the sunset–up a couple of hills with a sweeping view of the valley below, all courtesy of Jim’s RV–washing the whole sky (the whole sky in the most majestic and simultaneously human purples and reds and oranges.
Also…tame deer. Our AirBnB host’s neighborhood is littered with roving herds (is that the right collective noun for deer?) of deer…who did not so much as flinch when a couple of weirdos from Minnesota stopped and took pictures of them. Five feet away from the cutest fawn. I suspect that there are some less-than-savory human practices that led to these tame deer, but for the moment, I relished in the closeness. They say that you can only really know a person when you look in their eyes. I won’t pretend to know these deer (if even deer can be known), but something inexplicable happened when I looked the deer right in the eyes. I’m not sure what, but I’ll not soon forget it.
Salt Lake City tomorrow, Reno following that, and then California. I’m aiming to post these Sabbatical Sundries regularly, but I’m not going to be beholden to it (look at me practicing good boundaries around rest and obligations already!)
Be well and do good.