So, I haven’t widely advertised this (well, until now), but I’m “on sabbatical” this year. I’ve been wanting one since around the first day I started teaching ten years ago, and after watching me go completely bonkers over wedding planning, B agreed it would be healthy for me to take a break. So for the first time since I was like 4 years old, I have this unbelievably big, beautiful, open meadow of time to roll around in and explore. My only rule for myself is that I’m being ruthless about only doing things that bring me life. And of course there are SO many things that I’ve wanted to do that I’ve been putting off for a rainy day, it seems I am just as busy on sabbatical as I am otherwise, but I’m ENJOYING myself so much more.
It’s an interesting journey, sifting through priorities and figuring out which things really give me life, and which ones feel draining. One of the big surprises for me is that I haven’t wanted to go to church much for the past two months or so. I never realized before how draining church can be for me. Not even because of the issues I have with organized religion in general (and I have plenty of those, more later), but just on the most basic personality level – I’m really high on the introvert scale, and an event as large and boisterous as an evangelical Sunday gathering can be really overwhelming for me.
One of the big changes for me in 2012, besides getting married, was that B and I changed churches. We’re still very connected to our old church, it was an amicable parting, but we (me, especially) had some very specific reasons for wanting to change. One of those reasons for me was that the new church is much smaller. “Smaller” sounded very appealing to me because I was beginning to be conscious of my need to pull back, but now that I’ve had time to deeply reflect, I think when I told myself I wanted “smaller,” what I meant was something like my writer’s group – about 4-12 people. Which is not to say that I think big Sunday worship gatherings don’t have a place – I relied on them desperately for a few years when I was particularly lonely and feeling the squeeze of some really tough life moments. Sunday gatherings were crucial then for getting me through in one piece. And I think God likes Sunday gatherings as much as anything else. And I do want to keep and cultivate the many friendships I’ve made in the community.
Recently, though, I’m finding that if I go to church on Sunday, I have a lot less energy available for things that are more important to maintaining those friendships. Like visiting friends in the hospital. Hosting art groups. Supporting friends’ gigs. Maintaining friendships with quality time. Being with family. Cultivating my marriage. Every time I go to church, I have to sacrifice 2-3 other, smaller moments of communion in order to maintain my sanity/equilibrium. And I just don’t feel like what I get and/or give at a Sunday gathering warrants that kind of trade-off every single week. In most weeks, I only have energy for 2-3 social-type gatherings to begin with. So going TO church is sometimes an obstacle to BEING the church. At least for me. At least in this season.
So when I’m not teaching and not going to church, here are some of my other sabbatical activities:
1. Relishing marriage.
2. Wrote a novel in November.
3.Writing another novel. This one, much better.
4. Organizing our apartment.
5. Learning to cook.
6. Acting in two short films.
7. Reading. A lot.
8. Writing a short play for Spark and Echo.
11. Starting to submit writing for publication.
12. Going to my writer’s group.
13. Helping to organize the talent show portion of the family reunion this year.
14. Listening for God.
15. Getting trained in Dancing Mindfulness.
16. Hosting Days of Art at my apartment (first one this Saturday!)
17. Growing basil.
19. Performing poetry.
20. Relishing marriage.
Happy New Year everybody! 2013 is going to be a game changer, I can feel it!