Today I begin a 3-month sabbatical. Sabbatical, from sabbath or rest. Almost sounds like I’ll be hibernating for 90 days. But rather than sleeping like a wintering bear, the point is to step out of the the routines of work. To develop some new patterns of daily life. To rejuvenate, reinvent, to reinvigorate. But all of those things are outcomes. Here at the beginning of sabbatical I want simply to settle into a new rhythm. To remember who I am when I’m not working. When I’m not trying to accomplish a bunch of things. When I’m not tied to whether or not people approve of how I’m showing up and whether I’m fulfilling expectations.
Above is a collage created by Muriel, a member of my church. She has an entire portfolio filled with images like this, but this one she gave to me and added the word “sabbatical” in Greek letters. In the image, I see a well worn pathway with some boundaries and edges to it, and I also see an opening at the end of it, an opening into a wide and spacious place. But the place is as yet unknown. A mystery. Yet beckoning nonetheless. I took a photo of this image and you can see the reflection of me holding the phone and some of the windows in our home behind me. I’m being drawn into the image as it reflects myself back to me while allowing me to lean in further.
On day 1 of sabbatical, I already feel the pressure imposed by my ego to “make it worthwhile.” I’m already afraid I’m going to waste it. Worried I’ll regret not “making the most of it.” Nearing 50 years of age, I can recognize that those reactions are my ego resisting the space afforded by sabbatical. My ego, or sense of self, relies on being assured that it is valued and cared about and seen as succeeding. But the well worn path leads to an opening to a space where none of that matters very much. A space where I rest in who I am, and in the world as it is, and in God, who is free to be who God is without having to conform to anyone’s agenda, including mine.
So thank you to anyone who is reading this. I wish I could say “I hope it’s worth your while,” but if I did, that would be beside the point. These words aren’t here to impress or to justify taking a sabbatical. They are a piece of what is flowing from my life right now, nothing more.