Today marks the first day of my twelve-week Sabbath. A year ago, when I proposed taking this sabbatical, I wrote:
I am at a significant moment of transition in my life. Two years ago, my husband returned to school after staying at home for ten years with our young children. These years were taxing while I served full time as the sole pastor in a busy church, cared for my four children (now aged 7 to 14) and supported my mother who was seriously ill. In July 2010, we celebrated the end of a long and tiring journey together as my husband received his Funeral Director’s license and accepted a local, full time position. Sadly, in the same month, my mother died after a very painful battle with dementia. Now, having just celebrated my fortieth birthday and the eighth year in this pastorate, I am sorely in need of rest, renewal, and the opportunity for reflection.
What better place to begin than in a quiet retreat at St. John’s Convent Guest House with The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine. This is not my first visit, and as always I have a small room here with a bed and a desk, furnished with a comfortable and homey feeling. Services are held in the chapel four times a day, and all my meals are provided. The outdoor labyrinth and Quiet Garden are beautiful. I love it here.
When I arrived this afternoon, I hung up my coat and unpacked. Then I did what I wanted to do most: I crawled into bed and slept. It was a delicious treat to sleep in silence in the middle of the day, and I didn’t wake for over an hour. I lay in bed for a long time before getting up to go for Evening Prayer and supper.
This, I think, is the perfect way to begin a sabbatical: rest, sleep, and imitating God’s seventh day.