This summer, I will be away on a delayed sabbatical. As you may recall, my sabbatical was originally scheduled for June through October of 2020. When the pandemic struck, that seemed like a bad time both to be away from the church and to travel abroad as I had hoped to do. So, in consultation with the vestry and wardens, we decided to postpone my sabbatical a year. I will be on sabbatical from July 1 through October 4. It’s always hard to know when is a good time to plan a sabbatical, and even harder in this difficult year. There really is no perfect time, but this summer timing was chosen in the hopes of having a minimal impact on the life of the parish.
I’m very grateful for this time away. Guiding the church through the pandemic, with the help and support of so many of you, has been challenging. Last spring it felt like we were physically trying to lift the building into the air to put everything on the internet and someone joked that moving the building to Lowell Street or another location would have been easier. It will be renewing and refreshing to be able to step away from screens and Zoom for a little bit, although I will miss you all, too!
We have wonderful leaders who will keep things moving along while I’m away. Mother Emily has jumped in, not just with both feet, but with her whole heart, along with considerable skill and energy. This will be a time for her to get to know you, and you her, even better. Leading a parish during a rector’s sabbatical is not new to her – she did the same in her previous parish. Likewise, your wonderful wardens Murray and Sarah are incredibly capable and dedicated and will keep things moving forward for the months I’ll be away. The Regathering Team, under the leadership of Erica Brotshi, will also keep working on our full return to the building.
The sabbatical will be more of a “staycation” than was originally planned, but will still be a time of rest, prayer, and renewal. I won’t travel to England, but do hope and plan to complete the White Mountain Direttissima (a 250 mile hike over all 48 of the 4,000ft mountains of New Hampshire) in September. I’ll also get to greet my son Tom on top of Mt. Katahdin in Maine as he completes his thru hike of the Appalachian Trail, be one of the assistant scoutmasters for daughter Lucy’s scouting summer camp in August, and celebrate my parents’ belated 60th anniversary with them. If vaccines become available to teens this summer, we may also take a trip out West for more camping, hiking, and birdwatching as well as visiting family (and perhaps at least a drive by our friends at St. Christopher’s in Bluff). We will be sure to quarantine and follow all CDC protocols before returning to any Redeemer activities. And of course I’ll have extra time for reading, study, and prayer.
Sabbaticals help clergy to re-charge and renew themselves spiritual, physically, and vocationally for ministry. I look forward to the next chapter in our ministry together when I return!