As I write this I’m sitting in the living room of my in-laws, Russ and Ruth Moyer in Greensboro NC. It was a rapid transition from New England to the Carolinas. I can’t possibly catch you up on the first 8 or 9 days of my experience. We’ll try to do that in smaller bite-sized blog pieces.
Yes, I’m into the second week of the sabbatical and a few have been waiting for my first post. Why not until now? Two reasons. I’ve just emerged from a week long technological black hole. Virtually no internet access was available in the North Woods of Maine where I spent the better part of 6 days in a solo spiritual retreat. A good thing. No distractions. Direct TV was available at the camp but I never yielded to the temptation to turn it on. We were also late in getting this blog set up. It’s only with the help with our “Pastor of Technology” Eric that I’m even able to make this first attempt.
The first week was as I hoped – a time to decompress, even (in the words of Lance Witt) “a time to de-tox.” I began on Monday by reading several chapters of Isaiah. The prophet is the Apostle Paul of the OT and though I’ve preached a few sermons from the book, I’ve never really attempted to absorb the full measure and magnitude of his work. I’m also tracking with Henri Nouwen’s reflections during his year long sabbatical which turned out to be the last year of his life. I decided to read one month of his A Sabbatical Journey for each week of my own sabbactical. Some things he writes of at the outset so resonated with me or countered my own sense and experience of things that I had to stop reading at a couple points to wipe tears away. The same is true of Replenish by Lance Witt . Written by a pastor for pastors, his work is such good medicine for the soul and for me, so cathartic, that I’ve decided to pass on a copy to those pastors I meet along the way of my own sabbatical journey. Those who know me, understand that a major way in which I find renewal is through reading. I’m a processer. I can read and reread and think through an idea and reflect. Of course I have those moments when I read and reread a sentence 10 times and and then realize that I don’t know what I’m doing. But when I do have my sensibilities about me I’ll eventually go back through the author’s work to create a kind of index to reference those things that spoke to me and that in turn I think “will preach.”
In the evenings after sunset, I relaxed by the fire reading Sovereign, a Matthew Shardlake mystery – historical fiction set in 15th century England.
Today is a leisurely travel day as I depart Greensboro for Asheville NC via Boone and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Enjoyed a couple of good days with Ma & Pa Moyer. More about that later.