Today is the last official day of my sabbatical. While I don’t preach on Sunday and don’t go back to work until Tuesday, my two-month sabbatical officially runs July and August, so today is the official end of my sabbatical and as good a time as any to reflect a bit on the events of these last two months.
More than anything, I view this time as a giant “reset button” in my life. This may not be the case with all sabbaticals, but the other things going on in my church work and in my life made this very much the case for me. In the last three months, I have moved to a new apartment, moved to a new office, attended General Assembly for the first time in ten years, and traveled Europe for 25 days. All these experiences mean that so much of what I do when I return to the office next week and to the pulpit on September 9 will be quite different from what I was doing when I left on June 28.
I’m actually very excited about these changes. I am looking forward to having better separation between work and home because my office is no longer on the first floor of my home. I am excited about taking up some new things in life that have been inspired by my experiences this summer, most notably as I begin singing in the New Amsterdam Singers this fall. And I am looking forward to how my experiences of worship this summer at General Assembly, in New York City, and in Scotland will inform and transform my leadership in worship at the First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone.
At some level, I think I expected more immediate things out of this time away than I can see right now. However, I know that the full meaning of this sabbatical will emerge over the coming weeks, months, and even years as I take what I’ve done and bring it into my daily life. This is not particularly comforting or hopeful – it would be easier if I could say right now that these are the things that have changed. But the reality is that they haven’t yet – and that’s very much normal. The way of following Jesus in general is like this: it takes time to figure out what it all means and sort out how to integrate it into daily life. So if I can start that process, keep remembering all that I have experienced in these days, and begin to apply what I have learned in this time, I will fit very much within the long tradition of this way of life.
In the end, I suppose that has been the goal of these days as much as anything, to sort out a more faithful way to walk with Jesus, and I hope and pray that such will emerge as I continue the journey ahead beyond this time away into the calling of life I live every day.