Things Done & Left Undone: Sabbatical Postcard #6

Oh my goodness!

On the heels of St. Patricks’s Day, I find myself in the penultimate days of my sabbatical. This week finds me prepping for my last hurrah — a ten day pilgrimage to Scotland & England – for which I am very pumped! The tour starts in Edinburgh, then moves south to York, Bath, and London. Traveling with my “baby brother” Joseph and his husband John, I am in high anticipation to visit medieval villages, wander through ancient ruins, stand in awe at Stonehenge, step into a few cathedrals, and raise a few pints in the many pubs along the way. I have never been to the British Isles (minus Ireland), so whatever I see will be golden to me!

I step foot back into Virginia Monday, April 3 and will step back into church on Maundy Thursday, April 6. On such a high, I will be more than ready for Holy Week!

So, what have I done with this marvelous gift of three months time? I will not belabor you with the details here but if you would like to catch up, you can peruse my previous sabbatical postcards:

These are the “things done.” Now, allow me to let you in on the “things left undone.”

  • I did not read all of the unread books in my house – which there are a mountain of. This did not keep me from acquiring new books, of course. I am drawn to bookstores like a moth to the flame. But as of today, I have only started (not necessarily finished) my sixth sabbatical book.
  • I did not sing in a Unitarian choir. This is something I did on my previous sabbatical in 1999 and I thought of doing something similar this time round. I wisely decided against it for one reason: See “What’s a Weekend?”
  • I did not take online courses from Oxford University. Though very nerdy and interesting, I did not take “The English Parish Church from Its Origins to 1300” or “Intellectual Black Holes: How Do Belief Systems Become Prisons?” Alas, I will probably buy a book or two on these important topics in the future.:)
  • I did not walk a half marathon. Yes,I did sign up for the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in D.C. but I did not walk 13.1 miles today. Though just an aspiration, it did help me increase my daily steps and get me back to the pool!

I thank God for the wisdom to have left all these things undone. Jason Keller’s words, in this week’s Atlantic, sum this up perfectly for me:

“The most important reason to pause work: [for] the sake of the pause itself… when you take away all the tasks you might feel pressed to do on a Sunday, what you’re left with isn’t an absence. It’s an opening.”

Just as true for sabbatical as it is for the sabbath — I totally agree.

For me, the greatest gifts of this away time are three. (Very trinitarian, right?:)

  • I am not my work. I am more. Having set my work aside for nearly three months, I am so grateful for the room to restore and explore my love of storytelling with Story District and my love of books with the Library of Congress. I am so grateful for the luxury of time to spend time with family and friends and to travel.
  • I love my work. Though I have spent most Sundays sleeping in, by Ash Wednesday my body and soul were literally craving a little liturgy, so I popped in. I cannot tell you how much good it did my soul to celebrate with you. The music, the prayers, the colors, the candles, the taste of wafer and wine on the tongue, communion with Christ and communion with all of you in the pews — this is home. This is where I am meant to be.
  • Life is about both/and not either/or. I do not plan on leaving my “sabbatical” things behind, instead I hope to bring them forward with me to enrich my ministry. To stay in balance, to be a better priest, I need to be a healthier and more holistic person. And because of the amazing gift of these three months, I am!

So, Emmanuel, I cannot quite express how deeply grateful I am for the gift of this time. To say that I am eager to return is something of an under statement. But I also want to let you know how excited I am that soon Chuck’s four month sabbatical will be here. It is coming up before you know it — May 9 through Sept 9. A great adventure awaits you, my friend! You so, so deserve it!

Soli Deo Gratia,


Mental Health Spirituality The Episcopal Church

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The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog

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