How was my sabbatical?
There’s no way being given two months away from the responsibilities and pressures of ministry for two months isn’t an incredible gift. It’s an amazing privilege that I’m aware few people ever receive the benefit of in a lifetime, even amongst ministers. Megan has already said it, but it’s bears some repeating: we are so grateful to staff, the congregation, elders, and especially Pastor Mark for letting us do this. How was my sabbatical? Without a doubt, good.
And yet—there’s no way that simple of an answer could suffice. As people have asked me about it, I’ve become aware that everybody has different expectations about what a two-month sabbatical could or should look like. Is it full of travel and relaxation? Is it two months of sleeping in and lounging around in pajamas? Is it an opportunity to study, to bury myself in books and research? To pray and retreat? And because of those differing expectations, I sometimes feel, ironically, that my sabbatical (which literally means a time of rest), should have produced something. Anything. More productivity at work; a profound new theological understanding; a mountaintop experience. Something!
Time will tell what will come of this sabbatical, but what surprised me about these past two months is that it was more like a spiritual winter than a spiritual summer. If I was supposed to be productive in some way, instead I felt like a tree shedding its leaves so that the Master Gardener could get at my branches to prune them. Don’t get me wrong, sleeping in, traveling, retreat, reading—all those things were indeed part of my sabbatical. It’s not like I shut myself in a cave for two months, feeding on scraps of bread. But in the midst of retreating from the regular course of things God wanted to explore some parts of my heart I didn’t know needed exploring. It’s probably too early to say, but if there was a “something” my sabbatical produced, it was a winnowing.
How was my sabbatical? Good, with all the richness and layered meaning that word can hold.
Pastor Larry Hackman
P.S. — You might have heard the sad news that Tan Jenkins, Chapel Hill member and Young Families Coordinator in the Early Childhood department, died on December 21 after a brave fight with cancer. We are heartbroken and our prayers are with Tan’s family, particularly her husband Craig, as well as their children, Noel and Ben. At the same time we celebrate that her battle is over, she is free from pain, and that she is touching the face of Jesus at this very moment. To celebrate her life, you are invited to attend a memorial service on Saturday, January 4, at 1:00 pm in the Sanctuary. Craig tells us Tan’s favorite color was green, so we are encouraging everyone attending the memorial service to wear something green. We’ll see you there as we say farewell and give God thanks for the opportunity we had to know Tan.