I’m a late night snacker. It’s not the best or healthiest habit, I know, but the craving for salt or sweet at night sometimes drowns out the little voice in my brain telling me not to do it. Usually, a serving of ice cream or a handful of chips are on the menu. Every once in a long while, though, I find my craving for something completely different: fresh vegetables. Sometimes, my craving is for that juicy red bell pepper; or for those tart cherry tomatoes; or for those crunchy carrots. These unusual late night cravings surprise me, but they tell me that perhaps this is what my body actually needs every once in a while. My body needs the good stuff as a respite from the unhealthier snacks that are the norm.
In the summer of 2021, I’ll be taking a few months away from CtK for a planned sabbatical. A sabbatical offers an opportunity to get off the treadmill and provides an opportunity for renewal of vision and hope. After years of gorging myself with the multi-faceted tasks associated with ministry – tasks I love, by the way – I’m sensing an unusual craving: stopping. Like those late-night vegetable snacks, I’m taking this as a cue that my body – indeed, my spirit – needs some rest and rejuvenation as a respite from my normal hectic schedule. Yet, I know that a sabbatical is intended to be more than just a chance to recharge one’s batteries for another year. It can be a life and soul-changing time, a time when perspective and the Holy Spirit can come together. I’m looking forward to it.
Starting this month, I’ll be writing a grant outlining my plans and desired outcomes for a sabbatical that I’m planning to take in summer 2021. The grant asks some pretty specific questions about what it is I plan to “do” during this time, understanding that this is not a “working vacation,” but a chance for rest and rejuvenation. One of my tasks over the next few weeks is to distill all of the ideas running around in my brain down to one or three that would actually be doable.
An equally important part of the grant asks what the congregation plans to do during my sabbatical. What hopes and dreams does the congregation want to fulfill? What events, or faith formation opportunities, or rejuvenation activities would the congregation want to engage in for those weeks while I’m gone? A spiritual growth retreat? A faith formation series with a special guest speaker?
Whether or not the grant is accepted, I think these are worthwhile questions to consider. They will help me and the congregation to get a sense of what it is that we need during this extended sabbath time. What is it that we – as the Body of Christ – need as a respite from our normal, everyday life as church together? And how would those needs satisfy our deepest cravings? In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to exploring those questions with you.
Now, where is that bag of chips?