Today is my first day back. My sabbatical has ended–sixteen weeks of rest, gardens, friends and family, vacation and fun. I am ready to begin ministry at the church again and this season is the perfect time for it as the kids get ready to go back to school and the season begin to change. And as I start today, I am grateful for a million things.
I am grateful for the gifts that I received as I began my sabbatical. The Lousiville Institute gave my church a grant of $15 000 to make this time possible. I am still in awe that there is an organization who believes that pastors need sabbaticals, and that my proposal was chosen over several hundred others. The elders supported my plan to take this extended break, too. I also recieved gifts from within my congregation. L. gave me a beautiful book. E. gave me a hand-painted wasp trap that has come in awfully handy on the back deck. The junior youth gave me a beautiful bag of gardening treats, including the beet seeds that are now sprouting and the plant ties that held the pea vines in place earlier in the season. K. brought me information about a garden exhibit that was totally up my alley.
I am grateful for the companions who shared my time off. My husband did the hard work of accompanying me to Montreal and Niagara on the Lake (someone had to do it, he said) and also put up with me getting to sleep in every morning all summer. My children helped me water the garden countless times and were fantastic companions as we visited the Gaspe. A. arranged to take me on a private garden tour. M. helped me to connect with a nearby Quiet Garden. S. stepped in for me and offered gentle and effective ministry while I was away. G. and M. looked after watering the garden while I was travelling. So many neighbours stopped by to chat and admire my vegetables. So many people read this blog and even offered encouraging comments.
I am grateful for the quiet and solititude I enjoyed during my time away from church work. I had mornings to read the paper in my pyjamas and there was not one evening when I had to go to a meeting (OK, there was one. But only one.) I loved my time at the convent, time sitting by myself outside, time when I could read and read to my heart’s content. Moments when I felt rushed were rare.
Now I am grateful that I have a community to return to, and a group of people who will welcome me home again. I look forward to Sunday mornings when I can go to church without being a visitor somewhere, worried about sitting in someone’s pew (yes, that happened and was terribly embarassing). I am excited about the church’s upcoming 25th anniversary celebrations and about our high school kids getting ready for Canada Youth 2012.
As for my blog, stay tuned! My sabbatical may be over, but there is definitely more to come. Hallelujah!