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Sharon’s Sabbatical Reflections August 21, 2014

Let me begin today with a word of thanks.  This marks the end of the third week of my sabbatical.  It has been a busy and blessed time.  Sabbaticals have only become part of a minister’s employment package in the last decade or so.  Until then I had managed around the three weeks of annual study leave.  Generally, I used the time to take courses.  If i did not have three courses I found interesting in any given year, I simply didn’t take my full leave.  I believed this to be the honest, ethical path.  My previous sabbatical was to follow through on the research I had begun when I was a fellow at the Louisville Institute.  During my grant time with the Louisville Institute I was able to explore the issues and resources related to spirituality in the workplace.  This research took me to Harvard Business School, Columbia University and the Trinity Institute in NYC, and then to Chicago to work with Greg Pierce.  Five years later I took time to explore the sermons people wanted preached in their churches.  “Real World/Real Sermons” was the topic but I was challenged to dovetail my research with the chance to spend time with family and friends.  I was amazed at the breadth and depth of what I learned from the many people who agreed to meet with me in Victoria, Ottawa and Toronto.  It was rather a rapid-fire time rushing from one interview to another but truly inspiring to meet with people like CBC’s Michael Enright, academics, business leaders, health care professionals and so many more.So, now I am on my second official, and last sabbatical.  It is very different in that there is much less rushing around and more patient waiting—not my strongest feature!  Today I read Paul Clayton’s, Called for Life.  He is a retired United Church of Christ minister who lives in Cape Cod.  A couple of bits from this book spoke to me.  He reminded me of the priority of ‘community’ for a person entering retirement.  This was the same thinking that was expressed at the course I took in Chicago about seven years ago.  When asked what I missed most because of being in ministry, I answered that being away from family and friends was the hardest.  The facilitator of that course was the one who demanded that I find a way to take my next sabbatical near family and friends.  He was echoing what Paul Clayton said about the need to find and sustain community.  Being in the Okanagan this month has been a precious family time as we celebrated Erin and Sam’s marriage.  I used to joke that Erin had attended so many wedding rehearsals growing up that she could probably conduct a wedding from memory!  It reminds me of the sacrifices she made to be a PK.  Of course, there have been plenty of advantages too.  She has known the affection of special people who are notrelated but care deeply for her.This was the occasion to bring together the people I hold most dear in my life.  My sister who may have annoyed me terribly growing up but whose love and friendship I treasure now.  The two friends who came to the wedding are people who know me through and through.  They know my story and I know theirs and the trust runs deep within our souls.Clayton holds up community as key to a healthy and happy retirement.  He says:  “Retirement is the opportunity we are given to claim a piece of the horizon.” (p. 59)   Today that speaks to my yearning for more time with Rick.  He never imagined himself being married to a minister—not in his wildest dreams!  All in all, he’s done it with grace and tact and immeasurable patience.  When life gets so hectic in Advent and Lent I need only remind him of tax season and we find ourselves on the same page as far as time and stress are concerned.  Having this gift of love and marriage means so much to me.  It does feel holy and from God.  I am mindful that I am being nudged, tugged and drawn to spend more time with Rick.  It feels right that we can plan ahead together.  Clayton refers to this as having the freedom to become a complete human being.  If this is the freedom to dream together then I am all for it.  This reflection began with the acknowledgement that today I am focussing on relationships of value in my life.  It is about understanding who I am as opposed to what I do.  What I do will change but, I can see more clearly that who I am, who God has called me to be continues to unfold in surprising and blessed ways.With thanks for this generous gift of time,Sharon

Categories: General News, Sharon