Last spring I worked out a plan with the Board of Trustees to have a three-month sabbatical this winter. It’s been ten years since my first sabbatical, so the timing was right.
Together we decided when: January – March. It was up to me to decide what. I looked forward to getting to work on a writing project I’ve had in mind for several years.
Then came September 11. Things changed. After consultation with the Board, Staff and Ministerial Relations Committee, and after some deep soul-searching, I decided not to take the sabbatical. Simply put, I don’t feel comfortable disconnecting now. Everyone encouraged me to take the sabbatical if I wanted, but I’m simply not comfortable with it.
That doesn’t mean I won’t pursue the writing project this winter, but I’ll do it while remaining in touch with you. I will not disconnect the way I did ten years ago. That was a perfect sabbatical experience–one of the most important things I’ve done in my life. I drove around the country alone in a VW camper for five months, exploring America and me. It’s a different time, now. Barbara, Ed and I have worked out a schedule which allows me to preach once a month in those three winter months and, for the most part, I’ll stay in town. They will keep me informed and involved, but I’ll change the demanding pace I’ve been keeping. I plan to dig into the writing project at home, but I’ve relieved myself of a deadline for its completion.
I’ve been asked to write a paper for my Greenfield study group which will be an opportunity to work on my original writing plan–poetry as theology/spirituality.
Once I decided not to do the planned sabbatical I felt relieved. A sabbatical should not be a burden, right? I mean, it misses the point. The new plan feels right, and that is the point.
The poetry project I started last spring is now complete–it’s at the printer’s. Carol Lauer and Lynne Brooks have worked on the printing part of the project, getting the copyrights, editing the poems and deciding on layout. My son Jonathan has done the engineering for the recordings, which will be on two CD’s with two hours of Frost, Sandburg, Cummings, Whitman and a smattering of others. We called it Natural Selections because these are the poems that survived forty years of culling the herd–survival of the fittest. I hope you’ll enjoy them, and help underwrite the project by purchasing one or more, and let me write something personal on it. That would please me.
I hope you’re feeling better as we move into the holiday season It has been a difficult time. Take care of yourself–and if there’s any good thing you can do, or any kindness you can show to any person, do it now, don’t defer or neglect it. You may not have the opportunity again.