I am so blessed to be a part of a church and a denomination that intentionally ‘shepherds its shepherds!’
My summer sabbatical was a beautiful and timely gift and I want to say ‘thanks.’ Let me share a short version of what made it so special. There are principles that all of us can glean. I believe these five sets of goals were realized through this summer sabbatical:
Retreat and Reflection… I began the summer with a retreat at a monastery (SSJE) in Newburyport, MA, worshipping and spending time in the Word and prayer. I also enjoyed meeting with a counselor friend and my regular ‘spiritual director’ at different points in the summer. Our week speaking at Pilgrim Pines was both work and rest, and included times with 2 other pastors discussing some ideas and questions that were timely for Christ Church.
Reading and Riting… I read widely and deeply – on the Psalms, poetry, book-project-related articles and books, and other works for my own spiritual formation. I attended the URI Writers Workshop, and picked the brains of other writers through the summer. I prepared and taught some new material on Experiencing Christ in the Psalms at Pilgrim Pines (These talks will be downloadable at their site. I’ll be sharing highlights in future posts on the importance and practice of the Psalms.)
Writing is work, and this summer gave me inspiration and a “platform” for making progress – with the days needed to go to the library, etc. and discipline myself to write. I also started restructuring this blog site.
Relationships and Research… This summer included meaningful times with all of our children as they grow and transition. We joyfully welcomed a new Pastor of Student Ministries. I had some unique and stimulating conversations: a Brown University author discussing Roger Williams and Colonial history; attending a lecture and discussion with Kathleen Norris at Mt. Holyoke; re-connecting with a friend in Boston, hearing him lecture on biblical interpretation in the early church; dinner with Brad Nassif, prof. and author from North Park who was at the same lecture; coffee with Kyriacos Markides, U. Maine author discussing his books and insights on ‘spiritual aging’; and Peter Blackwell, reflecting on mentoring and adjustments in the 4th Quarter of life.
Re-creation and Rhythm… There were spontaneous times at the ocean; a classical concert with my daughter; RI Philharmonic on the beach with some friends; our yearly week vacation in Maine; staying in shape with some tennis and work projects; and savoring some great sunsets (here’s a poem I called ‘Sunset Gospel’). Mary and I had a very special evening listening to James Taylor and his amazing band at Tanglewood and later celebrated our 34th Wedding Anniversary. I believe some of the “rhythms” in my life have been re-set.
Re-tooling and Re-visioning… I worked on improving some personal “systems” and computer applications – to more effectively capture information and better execute my responsibilities. I’m also revising my URI Biblical Thought course. And not least, there has been some fresh “Re-visioning” of church life and ministry – especially in the areas of worship, shepherding well, mentoring leaders and outreach.
As usual, I invite any questions or discussion. Thanks for all who had a part, and with whom I share the joy of life in Christ!