As I head off on my four-month sabbatical, I am filled with peace and gratitude. I’ve had a chance to reconnect with a lot of folks over the last few weeks, over the phone or text, in small groups, at the door of the sanctuary— it is just so good to see you, to talk, to be together. It is in some ways a strange time to be going away, when we are still regathering and figuring out anew what it means to be community— in person, online, with all the new we have learned and the old we now cherish the more.
Though this is my first sabbatical in 17 years of ordained ministry, “sabbath” has been a big part of my spiritual life. Stepping away for a time— whether it’s really unplugging for my day off each week, carving out my 20 min of prayer time, or getting a few nights away on retreat—has kept me in touch with God and myself has been a major part of what sustains me. What I expect, and hope for, and ask your prayers for during this time are deep rest, healing, renewal, rebalance, fun, adventure, and enough struggle to keep it interesting. A new perspective and some learning wouldn’t be bad either! I am filled with gratitude for the incredible support of this community in making this time happen for me and my family. In my process of healing from burn-out and depression over the last six months, it could not have come at a better time.
Though I feel a poignancy about stepping away while the sweetness of reconnection is still so fresh, I have never been in a congregation which felt more ready. (Remember I have been on three maternity leaves of similar lengths!) I have never seen the vestry and leadership so energized and engaged, the staff so cohesive and prepared, or the congregation so authentically and faithfully open to whatever it is that God has for you. That gives me a great deal of peace—deep peace, in fact, in the knowledge that as I am resting and being renewed by the Spirit, the congregation will be as well.
I encourage you to take up Bishop Alan’s challenge to see these next four months as a time of sabbatical for the congregation, and for you in your own spiritual life. What do you need to reconnect with God, with yourself, with your calling? How does your soul long to be renewed? What can you offer to help invite others into reconnection and renewal as well? The staff have each taken on one spiritual practice to engage in or deepen over the next several months, and will be supporting one another in that. What would that be for you, and who will you invite to walk that journey together with you?
I can’t wait to rejoice together this fall in all of the wonderful work God has done in and among and through us.
With love and deep peace in the Risen one, who is making all things new.
You can read more about Rev. Amy’s Sabbatical HERE.