Rest: Breathing Space and Sabbath Work

I mentioned last year finally realizing that vacations are…to say the least, different.

This year our “vacation” consisted of Andy going away for 2 weeks to start his DMin program in Pittsburgh (obviously, not technically vacation at all). During that time I stayed at home with the babies for the first week of his program and then drove up with the babies to my parents’ place. When Andy was finished with his first DMin session he flew to Chicago where I picked him up and we finally got to grab some alone time and an early dinner. A few days after we were reunited with Daddy, I left for a board meeting in Chicago for a couple of days. My first time away from the babies. Overnight. For more than one night. And now, I’m in Louisville for most of the week for a Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (formally, General Assembly Mission Council) Exec Committee retreat and meeting. Andy and the babies were originally going to come with me but after realizing how tired everyone (ie. the babies) were from the traveling we felt that Andy should stay home with the babies.

So, yes. Vacation. A huge paradigm shift. Strange and complicated. A mix of relief and guilt and exhaustion and nourishment. When I left on Thursday for The Young Clergy Women Project Board meeting, the last thing I saw was D’s face pressed against the window. Wailing. That didn’t leave me for a while. But when I arrived at the end of the conference and we walked to lunch at a delicious Mexican place – even though I had never met anyone on the board before and even though there were mostly the typical awkward, quiet, chit-chatty first questions – it felt wonderfully refreshing. To simply be around other adults. Women. Clergy. It felt easy.

It was a lot of meeting – reflections, goal-setting, etc. – and then some interesting conversations, as well as lovely devotionals and worship moments. I especially loved our English woman’s devotion which she shared from the Northumbrian Community:

One thing I have asked of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life;
to behold the beauty of the Lord
and to seek Him in His temple.

Call: Who is it that you seek?
Response: We seek the Lord our God.
Call: Do you seek Him with all your heart?
Response: Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Call: Do you seek Him with all your soul?
Response: Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Call: Do you seek Him with all your mind?
Response: Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Call: Do you seek Him with all your strength?
Response: Amen. Christ, have mercy.

These are familiar words. And yet, somehow in this context they drew me out more so than anything had in a while. Somehow it spoke to me and for me in a way I hadn’t experienced in a while. And it restored me. The time with these incredible sisters – even doing the “business” – was so much fun – and even while I felt the absence of Andy and the babies every other second.

Today, as part of the morning discussion for the exec committee retreat we watched Benjamin Zander’s TED Talk below. He’s the author of a book called The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life, which is a book we are looking to read together for the next two years. The video is below and it was full of beautiful verbalizations about what we are to do as leaders in the context of classical music. All the examples of trusting and living into the music, and how even classical music can actually be accessible to everyone resonated with me. I loved something he said about teaching/sharing/leading: “Life doesn’t equal wealth and success. It equals how many people’s eyes are shining around me,” (my paraphrase). I want to be a part of a work that makes peoples’s eyes shine…including mine.

Our “vacations” don’t involve travel to exotic places (although Madison, Wisconsin is pretty amazing – loved seeing the Elsdons) and we certainly don’t get much chance to rest. Like someone once told me – “With a family vacation just means a change in scenery.”

Instead of being home in Bloomington taking care of the babies we were up in Rockford…taking care of the babies. But, this year it was a chance to do some work. Andy in Pittsburgh. Me in Chicago, and here in Louisville. But, the bizarre thing is that it was like a Sabbath. A mixed-up experience of Sabbath from daily living, i.e. from the babies. It was a Sabbath-work. It was space to breathe, without being stifled and smothered by my extremely loving babies. It was a space to be, and be not only a mom but a pastor, a sister, a leader, a thinker, a writer. It was a space to receive, and give in a different way.

And like any true Sabbath, I came out of it thankful. Really, really oh so thankful.

One thought on “Rest: Breathing Space and Sabbath Work

  • August 12, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    I’m thankful for you — and finally meeting you. Hope the transition home was easy.

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