While Jon holds down the home fort, here’s an overview of my sabbatical plans. (Excerpt from Sunday’s sermon):
My sabbatical is coming up in two weeks, beginning the 24th. Unlike within the corporate world a sabbatical is not a time to look for another job. It is a time to enhance my ministry from a larger perspective. The term sabbatical comes from the Hebrew shabbat, a period of rest. I expect to rest, to acquire new skills, and to rediscover exactly what I love about ministry, especially serving this congregation. In fact, I will abide by a covenant that says I will not leave Live Oak for at least a year after my return. You can be sure that I have a plan with a schedule, places to go, people to see, projects to pursue, books to read. My plan is to begin with a workshop in Santa Barbara, CA, on clergy wellbeing, where we’ll touch on some of the same ideas Chuck and I presented in our sermon series on wellbeing.
Then I’ll go to Monterey where about 350 UU clergy will gather for our first CENTER Institute, a major opportunity for continuing education. My particular focus will be on the Vocal Community. The leader will be Dr. Ysaye Barnwell, who is a UU and a founding member of Sweet Honey in the Rock. She is a prolific songwriter and teaches in an oral tradition often found in African American churches—by rote and without written music. I can hardly wait to spend 15 hours with her and also sing in the choir for worship services.
Four days later I’ll make a giant leap to visit India! The 3-week trip will be led by a leading UU minister the Rev. Abhi Janamanchi and his delightful wife Lalitha. Some of you heard Janamanchi’s wonderful sermon at General Assembly a couple of years ago. We’ll visit several cities and their sacred places in southern, northeast, and north India.
After India I’ll travel to Boston with a colleague on some denominational work, so that will give me a chance to visit the UUA headquarters, and of course the bookstore, and across Beacon Street to Boston Commons. Close to my final weekend will be a yoga retreat held near Austin at the beautiful Hindu temple Barsana Dham. And, of course, I’ll spend some time with my entertaining husband Jon Montgomery mainly so he won’t get too used to having me gone!
That gives you an outline of my plans. But until they actually unfold day by day, I won’t really know what to anticipate. In fact, I fully expect to be surprised by people and places I encounter, especially when traveling in India. I expect intense spiritual growth that will take me far beyond my regular meditation practice. I expect to be changed. Already it is certain that my routine will be disrupted.