During my first month of sabbatical I found myself needing to do four things:
- Finishing up a few projects, like budget recommendations and staff contract renewals
- Letting go of being involved and having an opinion on everything (!)
- Preparing for my overseas pilgrimage to Ireland
- Cleaning out my office (mostly)
Although seemingly unconnected, these activities were necessary steps in my process of separating for the sabbatical. For seven years I’ve been involved on a daily basis with some aspect of the Fellowship. My involvement can’t be turned off as easily as a faucet. And I know your activity, the bubbling life of the Fellowship, can’t be stopped while I’m gone, either. Nor should it. This is one reason why sabbaticals aren’t short–it takes time for the process of letting go, the going, and then readying for the return.
Before fully leaving (mentally, emotionally, and physically), I had to finish up a project or two. This was as much about my need to provide input to a process that would take place while I was gone, as it was about your needing that input. I needed to feel like I’d done everything I should before I could head out.
Once these last projects were completed I then had to let go of participating on the building project and capital campaign work, as well as on hiring a Coordinator of Religious Education. I couldn’t let go of these things if I didn’t trust you to make good decisions without me. I do trust you. I trust you to make wise, responsible decisions in my absence. Like many things, saying that is easier than doing it. But I am letting go because I do trust you.
Only after the last projects were complete and the letting go mostly accomplished, only then could I begin preparing for my big sabbatical adventure—a Celtic Spirituality pilgrimage to Ireland. I’ve been reading and reflecting in preparation for it. And I’ve been shopping for electric outlet adaptors for Ireland, raingear, and other miscellaneous stuff. Now I’m nearly ready to fly out to the Emerald Isle.
But before that moment, I had one more task. I had to clean my home office. Tossing out old papers also helped me let go and prepare for something new to take its place. Even tackling the dust bunnies acted like a ritual cleansing, preparing me for new adventures and new sacred moments. It also lightened my spirit to have the old hoard gone.
Tomorrow, I leave on a jet plane for a spiritual journey to a land where people connect to the elements more closely—to the rain, sun, mist, and darkness. I hope my spirit will connect more deeply as I touch ancient lands and explore its holy sites.
As new life emerges with the coming of springtime, may you be equally blessed by all life has to offer.
Be well, Rev. Alison Eskildsen