By Rev. Alison Wilbur Eskildsen
During the month of February the Celtic holiday of Imbolc takes place. Imbolc, or ewe’s milk, celebrates the arrival of spring, the time when lambs are being born. Observed on February 2, the holiday lies midway between winter solstice and spring equinox. Americans observe Groundhog Day on this same date.
Although only halfway to spring, Imbolc recognizes that life in the ground is stirring, readying itself for emerging from winter gestation to add color and beauty to the natural world. I like to imagine that if I put my ear to the ground I could hear seeds popping open, worms sloughing dirt, and trees soaking up clear water from earth’s depths.
In recent warm days I’ve noticed green daffodil stalks emerging at the Fellowship, as if anxious to bloom. I’m sure we’ll still get a few more days of cold weather, so I hope they don’t bloom too soon. Even so, I’m long past ready for daffodils, crocus, iris, and other flowers to brighten the landscape.
While earth readies itself for spring, I’m readying myself for my sabbatical. During February I’ll be sharing more about my plans and how my responsibilities will be shared during my time away, roughly from March through July. In a nutshell, the Worship Arts Committee and I have a great lineup of guest ministers and other speakers for Sunday mornings. Rev. Don Randall will assume Pastoral Care responsibilities, along with Susan Ponsoldt and other Care Team members. Rev. Don will also take on some Staff oversite.
At my suggestion, during my sabbatical the Committee on Shared Ministry will ask you about where you feel your and my focus and energy should be directed once I return. When I arrived as your called minister seven years ago, the Search Committee and Board had a sense of direction for me and you. We’ve fulfilled many of those goals. Now what?
While I’m away I’ll be reflecting on these same questions and when I return the Board, Ministry Council, Staff, and I will review your input and strategize on how and where to direct our energies. I look forward to what each of us discover during our time apart.
In keeping with the intent of a sabbatical, during my time away I will not answer email or tend to any routine ministry tasks. In an emergency, please contact Rev. Don or Jane Mayer, who is my sabbatical liaison. They will know if and how to reach me. Basically, I will return before the sabbatical ends only if there is a major disaster or crisis in the Fellowship. So while I’m gone stay healthy, stay calm, and carry on!