Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Spring Sabbatical

Anne Ridenour

The word Sabbatical has its origins in Latin sabbaticus, Greek sabbatikos and Hebrew, Shabbat, or Sabbath, referring to a time of rest from work. If I could choose a season to rest, it would be spring. Spring comes when it is ready, helped along by temperature, rainfall, and those ancient cycles we may never fully understand. One that has always fascinated me involves the woodland salamanders, ephemeral pools, and a full moon! God is everywhere in spring. From the smallest indication of life breaking through the soil, the sound of bird song in the thicket, the vision of blue skies overhead, the sudden arrival of a rain shower and the gradual greening of the landscape. It is a beautiful time of year. 

Over the last ten years, I have had the privilege of serving a wonderful congregation as a lay leader. My roles in the parish have included Sunday school coordinator, Search Committee member, Vestry member, Finance Committee, and Senior Warden. Beyond the parish, I have enjoyed working with clergy and lay leaders in Region VI on Collaborative Ministries while serving as Regional Convener. My faith has grown at each turn in the road. A few weeks ago, just as spring was emerging, I gave myself permission to take a spring sabbatical. I did not know I needed to do this until I did it! I’ve taken time to dream about what I would do if I wasn’t doing what I am doing, I got my gardens in order, I started taking photographs again, and I rested. 

One of our dilemmas in the Episcopal Church, particularly in smaller parishes, is the ever-present risk of exhausting the creative energy of our clergy and lay leaders. Lay leaders move from one position to another sharing much of their discretionary time, resources, skills and talents as caretakers of tradition and visionaries of what is possible. We wouldn’t have it any other way. We love our churches. At some point, we need to retreat from what we have come to know so well. 

To be God’s mission in this world, we need to be intentional about taking time to step back from the work we are doing, review and reconnect with our passions. We need to get to know ourselves again. Spring provides a much needed sensory overload, a spring tonic that shows us there can be abundance if we give ourselves the time and space to see it and become aware of what is possible. We can step out into the wilderness and see beyond our day to day routine, remember what makes us whole again, and in the process, rekindle the abundant love we have to share within. A spring sabbatical helps us do just that.

Anne Ridenour is a member of Christ Church, Chaptico. How will you take a sabbatical this spring? Share your thoughts, comments, or questions on Facebook.