Gratitude & Grace

Beginning June 3, I will be taking two months of sabbatical time away from the regular duties of ministry; for this I am profoundly grateful. Ministerial sabbaticals are both a gift and a necessity. They are a recognition that living fully open can allow one’s well to run dry. Our UU faith has a long tradition of granting ministers time for renewal and rejuvenation. Part of the standard contract signed between congregations and their ministers builds in the accrual of sabbatical at a rate of one month per year served. Theoretically, this allows a minister to take 6 months off during their seventh year of ministry.
Having come through three particularly challenging personal years recently, I’ve worked with the board of trustees to manage my sabbatical time a little differently. Contractually, I am eligible to begin using sabbatical after my fourth year so last year I observed one month in June. This year I will use both June and July.
This will be a win-win for both myself and the congregation. In a traditional 6-month sabbatical, additional funds must be accrued to pay a visiting minister to cover ongoing obligations of church ministry. A summer sabbatical, when worship services can be led by our capable and inspiring worship associates, offers the ability to save the church a great deal of money. This summer there is a wonderful line up of regular service leaders and the addition of some folks you haven’t seen before – including three church couples who are going to share their perspective on life. Pastoral care issues will be covered by some local colleagues if they arise. Please contact the office if you need support and our office administrator, Linda Liberacki, will connect you.
As I explained in my article on mental health in the Spring Touchstone, the circumstances of my personal life in the past three years have taken a toll and I feel a strong need for spiritual, mental, and physical renewal. My plan is to deepen my spiritual practices of Qi gong and meditation and renew my Yoga practice. I also hope to catch up on gardening that has been put on hold with our many ongoing obligations these past summers. Finally, I will be reading and preparing for the coming year by exploring new paths for preaching and workshops; filling my well with sustaining water to share when we regather in the fall.
Each of us needs to find the time to look beyond the routines of work and responsibility and find that deeper connection to the mystery in which we live and breathe and have our being. I will keep each of you in my prayers this summer as I reconnect with the holy otherness of life. I pray you will also make time within your week to slow down, smell the roses, listen to the birds, read that long put off novel, and remember your own connection to life’s fullness. They say that life is what happens when we are busy planning other things. Let us each pledge to be present to the short span of years we are given to enjoy. Be well. Breathe deeply. Enjoy the gifts in your own backyard. I look forward to seeing you in the September.
With love & blessings,
Rev Pam