Sunday, August 7, 2011

Final thoughts

The book is in.  The prints are made.  The marathon is run.  The retreat is over.  

I guess that means I have to go back to work. 

And, actually, that's okay with me.  If sabbatical lasted forever, it would not be as useful as it actually is.  And it'd be boring. 

I love my job.  Really really love my job.  I know that is a luxury, to love one's job, and so I feel very fortunate to love mine.  But I definitely needed a break.  Here's some of what I wrote about being on sabbatical when I was at Mercy Center:

When I was heading out of the office last May, I had this overwhelming feeling of entitlement, as if this sabbatical was something I had earned, something I deserved, it was my right.  I'm not sure what exactly changed my attitude (except maybe distance) but I have come to a place of profound gratitude and humility.  This time away was a gift to me from my parish, from Lilly and from God.  I did work hard to get to this place, but many people work hard and very few are rewarded with such an exceptional gift as three months to spend with family, traveling, relaxing, visiting, cultivating a long-lost hobby.  Entitlement got me nowhere (as is usually the case) but the switch to gratitude has released a lot of little stressed-out demons from their duties on my brain and shoulders.

I'm not going to lie and tell you all that I experienced some kind of major personal growth.  I, in fact, did little deep thinking.  But I did find that rest that I feared was so elusive in the beginning.  And I am coming back to this job that I love so much-- my vocation and life's calling-- with renewed energy and renewed excitement.  That is the point, I suppose.  I didn't deserve it any more than anyone else, but I did get the time that I needed to "accomplish" this rest.  And so I'll respond by continuing to do what I do best: loving the church community, teaching about Christ, preaching love and respect.  I am not smarter, deeper or more profound* for having left, but I am ready to return with an energy for the work that I haven't really felt in years.

I can't wait to see you all next Sunday!

*but, truth be told, I may actually be a little cuter since this rest has helped me lose the worried look and the perpetual bags under my eyes.  HA!

Day Whatever: Wrapping this thing up

Well, friends, after I got my book off to the printer's and headed headlong into pre-marathon mental hygiene, I gave the blog a much needed-rest (or maybe it was I who needed a rest. Whatever).  

Unless I come up with something profound that I need to share with you in the next few days, I am going to make this my final sabbatical blog entry [updated: okay, there's one more].  Whatever will you do without me?  Well, you can come to church, for starters.  Because I'll be there starting on Tuesday and because Jesus is far more interesting than me anyway.  And he didn't even get a sabbatical!

So, the last two weeks...

I took off for San Francisco last Saturday and stayed in Union Square at a great little hotel about a mile from the marathon start/finish line.  This little mile figures into our story a bit later.  Sunday morning, I woke up at an ungodly hour, dressed and marched on down.  It was beautiful that morning, a cool and perfect 57 degrees.  San Francisco is such a gorgeous city and this morning as 5,000 runners gathered for the 5k, 1/2 marathon and full marathon, it was just right.

This was my view waiting in the port-a-let line.  Seriously.  That's the Bay Bridge over to Oakland.

The start of the run was idyllic and serene, even with all 5,000 people.  I ran well and felt fantastic.  I snapped this around mile 5.  (For the record, I carry my iPhone when I run, not my DSLR!) 

That is our friend the Golden Gate Bridge.  A few minutes later, I ran over it and then made a loop and came back.  Very, very cool and just as iconic as it sounds.  On the way back across, however, the bridge sprouted tentacles and wrapped them around my ankles.  Or maybe I just tripped over my own foot.  Either way, I took a sprawling wipeout at mile 9.5, scraped chin and palms and knocked the wind out of me.  Mean old bridge.  I recovered in a couple of minutes but kind of lost my running mojo after that.

I kept on a decent (for me) pace for another 5 miles but kept getting slower and slower-- still running-- until mile 20 when it seemed that my whole being began to break down, right down to my soul.  I suppose this is what they call the dreaded "wall" and friends, it was terrible.  The scenery was so beautiful and I was miserable.  

But I kept on and finally finished--still running-- at a depressingly slow pace.  

But I finished!  So I can cross "MARATHON" off my bucket list.  I never have to do that again.  Whew.  And the shirt is really fabulous.

After grabbing one of those weird foil blankets,  I tried to wander back to my hotel.  My phone (with GPS) had died and there was nary a taxi to be found.  They were all taken by the faster, sprightlier marathoners.  I kept getting turned around and lost.  By the time I got a taxi, 40 minutes later, I was only 4 blocks from my hotel but still couldn't find it.  Inside my head was a dark place.  Yikes.  

I showered, ate (read inhaled) some pancakes, got a massage and then took to my bed, where I watched a pay-per-view movie and ordered Chinese food.  Then slept for 13 hours.  

The next morning, I took this picture while waiting for an omelet (you see a theme here? I was hungry!) to say "hi!" to my kids.  I hope my husband didn't actually show it to them because I look about as awful as I felt: swollen, bleary, stiff.  But a marathoner!

After I did a touristy limp through Chinatown, I headed to the Mercy Center in Burlingame, where I spent three days on retreat, doing yoga, writing, praying the offices, and walking the labyrinth.  It was renewing and restful.  Mercy Center is a really lovely place and I highly recommend it for simple retreats.  It is not luxurious but has everything one needs for time to think, rest and pray.  The beds are comfy and quiet, the food is simple and delicious and the grounds are very pretty.  It is in California, which is rather inconvenient for me, but it was just the right thing at the time.