This morning I returned to the office after my summer sabbatical. Yesterday I attended church services and our annual Homecoming Picnic--it was a beautiful, wonderful day and Katie's excellent sermon on the topic of coming home really spoke to me.
So, let me review the summer a little.
I read a bunch of books on dealing with our current global crises, particularly climate change. My goal was to make sure that as a congregation we are doing what we need to as we live with the effects of a changing climate, that we are being faithful and resilient and effective. I am almost finished with the last of those books, Hannah Malcolm's Words for a Dying World.
If I had finished all of those, I had other things to read, but never got to them. I'm still not close to finishing the philosophy book I've been reading all summer--Jeffrey Stewart's 878 page Pulitzer Prize winning biography of philosopher Alain Locke, The New Negro. Because it's so long I saved it for this sabbatical summer, but even after three months I'm only on page 581.
One thing I learned with the last sabbatical is that even with all that extra time you don't get everything accomplished you thought you might. I did take that into account this time when planning. And I think I did get less reading accomplished than six years ago because then I had a one-year-old I was home caring for much of the time, and I also didn't travel as much as this summer.
I got most of my home projects accomplished. The last one on the summer list is in process right now, so I think it will finish up within the next few weeks. Feel really good about where I am with those.
My main goal with this sabbatical was simply to take a break, after two years of pandemic, social turmoil, and divorce. Ironically, one of the first things I read this morning was a New York Times article on pastor burnout which claimed “Your pastor needs a long break, probably longer than they think.”
That goal was achieved. I had a wonderful summer, full of rest, relaxation, fun, adventure, renewal. I'm so thankful I got to have it. And it also felt like a foretaste of retirement.
The only feature which I really missed this summer was that with all my freedom and flexible schedule for three months, there was no romantic interest to spend time with. The sabbatical fell during a dry spell in that regard. But that lack didn't rob my summer of joy. And I'm probably now in even better shape for any potential relationship than I was before, after spending that time on self-care.
As I've written in previous posts, I had three revelations that turned into resolutions during the course of the sabbatical. First, was how much I find joy and comfort in my home (which was not always the case over the last three years), and so I'm going to prioritize more time and energy in making it more beautiful, comfortable, and enjoyable.
Second, is that I really want to get back to a regular writing practice. That feeds me, and I have so many ideas in various stages of work. I didn't get too much writing accomplished this summer, but just enough. So I need to figure out what routine is going to work for me now and make it a habit.
Third, is that I've always wanted to do more outdoor activities and have been frustrated many times over the years that this has often fallen to the wayside. When I re-entered the dating world last year, I thought I'd look for some outdoorsy guy who could help me prioritize these activities. But after our successful trip to Yellowstone I realized how much I want to do these things, that I can do them myself and can figure out the things I don't currently know how to do well, and that I don't need to wait for someone else. So I'm going to prioritize these activities as well--my recent purchase of a paddle board was one step in living into this resolution.
So, thanks for a splendid summer. Onto a fabulous fall.