Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sabbatical Reflection, July 28

Barb and I returned from our one week vacation on Monday, July 28. Months ago, when we initially set aside July 22-28 for vacation, we had planned to install new flooring downstairs in our home and then head off to Ellensburg for “Jazz in the Valley” with dear friends.

In preparation we picked out the “peel-and-stick” tiles we wanted that would never stain with cat throw-up. Barb ripped up the old carpet (well past its prime and mightily stained with the aforementioned substance), pulled up the tack strip, and made a dump run. We were ready.

But one afternoon, a little over a week before our project was to begin, we made a quick trip to Costco to buy a folding ladder on sale and stumbled across other kinds of flooring. More options! We listed pros and cons for each type of flooring when it hit us: there was no way we would be installing a floor during this week of vacation. Barb said, “This is a crazy idea but what if we drove down to Chico, California to visit your mom and her twin sister and then drive from there to Ellensburg.”

One more discernment chart later we knew. Gas will never get any cheaper than it is right now. We wanted to visit my mom at some point during the sabbatical time and this would be the only week of vacation that Barb could take. Plus, we like road trips. In the end, it just felt right.

And it was. Each day we gave thanks for this “best ever” vacation. In Chico we helped my mom and aunt sort through old boxes of “stuff” from a storage unit they closed out. Mom sat in her chair and I knelt on the floor near her. Box by box, one at a time over the course of three days we cleared out about eight or nine boxes. Most contained pictures and photo albums from travels around the world and Mom was ready to let them go.

We filled two large trash bags in addition to the garbage can. Then we filled my aunt’s Lincoln Continental with other boxes of usable items they had already sorted and dropped them off at the Salvation Army. In the evenings we played Chicken Foot (a dominos game) and laughed ourselves silly.

The drive to Ellensburg up through central Oregon exposed us to parts of the state we had never seen before – high desert, rolling hills, deep canyons. Friday night after an almost 11 hour drive we arrived in The Dalles where fell in love with the Columbia River Gorge.

“Jazz in the Valley” featured fabulous musicians, beautiful weather, and time with old, dear friends. On Sunday morning, as part of the jazz festival, we rocked out with The Total Experience Gospel Choir and for an hour and a half found ourselves swept up in the utter joy of singing and praise.

Each day a joy . . . each day, just right . . . as I formally begin this time of sabbatical my hope is to remember that – this day matters –don’t think too far ahead, be present now and relish what is.

blessings + peace,


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sabbatical Reflections

As I begin this time of sabbatical I find myself reflecting on this lovely poem by Vassar Miller. It catches the sense of what Sabbath time can mean.



I must go back to the small place,
to the swept place,
to the still place,
to the silence under the drip of the dew,
under the beat of the bird’s pulse,
under the whir of the gnat’s wing,
to the silence under the absence of noise,
there bathe my hands and my heart
in the hush,
there rinse my ears and my eyes,
there know Thy voice and Thy face,
until when, O my God, do I knock
with motionless knuckles
on the crystal door of the air
hung on the hinge of the wind.

by Vassar Miller