Friday, May 13, 2011

Some early thoughts on sabbatical: anxiety and rest

Someone (okay, he's my boss) once said that you really need two weeks of vacation before you can come back feeling refreshed, because you will inevitably spend the first week thinking about all the work you left behind or worrying about some project you didn't finish before you left.  

I hope that this theory holds true for the first few weeks of a sabbatical.  I'm not so much worried about things I left behind, but I haven't really relaxed at all in the last three days because I've been working so much at getting the affairs of this project in order.  Contacting sites, procuring equipment, making car, plane, hotel reservations, doing training runs... whew!  The last three days have been just as full as any working day has ever been.  And that doesn't include all of those "life maintenance" things that I put off when I was getting ready to leave.

Not that I am complaining, BELIEVE ME!  I am so excited about this time and about the adventures we have in store as a family and for me as an individual.  I am incredibly grateful to the Lilly Endowment for making this possible and to my parish for extending me the courtesy of this time. 

But I am looking forward to the rest part.  

Trut be told, I'm not entirely sure I know how to rest.  I know how to sleep-- I'm pretty much an expert in that department-- but I'm not confident in my abilities to just relax without worrying about something else I'm supposed to be doing.  I have lived so long with something always hanging over my head that I am the poster child for Jesus' admonition from the Mount of Olives, "Do not be anxious about tomorrow."  How in the world...?  

I'm pretty sure that if I didn't eat the bread of anxiety, I'd starve.  

And I know I'm not alone in this.  I have friends, ordained and otherwise, who have come to live on the crisis roller coaster, bouncing along from highs to lows, always thinking about the next hill, even when we haven't descended from this one yet.  It is a taxing way to live and even though I have great support systems and healthy habits for decompressing (mostly-- I am human), it can wring me out and leave me empty. 

So I guess this will be a lesson/struggle for me on this sabbatical.  Maybe a little carpe diem, maybe a little failure, maybe a little letting go.  I'll let you know how it goes. 

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