So my summer sabbatical experiment is almost over……..
I only have three long weekends left. Thought that those of you who are following my blog might like to know what I have learned during my “summer of rest”.
1. In my entire adult life, I have worked way too hard and have never had enough rest. I realized, one day while daydreaming in the bunk of Oasis, that I have worked every summer since I was in high school. In addition, many of those summers were spent taking classes, while working full-time and usually working a second job on the weekends. That was the definition of insanity. My drive to overwork comes from a number of different sources, which I won’t go into here at length, but it also ties in with my overconsumption. I have made poor choices with my money most of my adult life, which has driven me into a cycle of overworking and then overspending to combat the stress of overworking. It is a vicious cycle that our quest for minimalism will hopefully stop.
2. The “vacation effect” is cumulative. When we get to Cuttyhunk Island on our boat (we will have been there over 28 days throughout this summer), it feels like we have never left. When we get on Oasis, it does not take me hours to unwind anymore. I am about as relaxed as rubber by the time we get into the dingy to ride out to our mooring. The “vacation effect” also seems to follow me throughout the week, once we are back home. It actually feels like our Cuttyhunk life is our real life and we are just visiting our jobs for four or five days, before it is time to go back to our real life on the island.
3. The culture in which I live and work does not understand the value of rest. Busy is best where I live and work. Nobody seems to have enough time. Everyone is running at high speed, trying to be as efficient and productive as possible, trying to cram the most activity into the day- even on the weekends. Nobody seems to stay home anymore. Do, do, do……Remember the Rabbit character in the Winnie the Pooh stories? “Busy….busy…BUSY!!” I have some days at work where I do a “split shift”, meaning I go in to open at 7:30 in the morning, leave for a few hours from 10-12, and then close the school from 12-6. Some days, I use that time to see my Mom in the nursing home, but some days, I go for a long walk, or to Starbucks to write or read. Once in a while,I even get a pedicure….I get the feeling that most people don’t understand this and think that I am wasting my time. (But maybe that is just me feeling paranoid??). Even God rested, on the seventh day. This is not because He needed to rest. He did not. His power is infinite. He rested because He was setting an example for us. We are finite human beings. We are not God. We must rest. It is not optional. To push myself on a daily basis beyond what I can comfortably do is not pleasing to God.
4. I can NEVER go back to the old way……This is going to present some challenges. I went to Divinity School with the idea that I would get a ministry job after graduation. I met and befriended many amazing people in ministry while I was in Seminary. Not one of them had more than one day off a week. Most of them worked two or three different jobs to try and make ends meet. All of them were “on call” 24/7, and all of them worked every Saturday and Sunday. All year long. Some of the very fortunate ones were blessed to work in churches where they were given three or four weeks off in the summer, and one regular day off during the week, but those were the exception- not the rule. My husband works in the corporate world. His time off is on Saturdays and Sundays. I have discovered this summer, that spending Saturdays and Sundays with my husband is sort of awesome. I am praying about what kind of ministry God could be leading me to that does not involve spending almost every summer weekend in a church. Feels almost blasphemous to be writing this……
5. God will work all of this out. I just need to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. After what I wrote above, this may seem like an oxymoron, but it is not. I truly believe that it was Jesus who led me to slow my life down like this. In spite of the fact that Allan and I are currently not a members of a home church (though we still love to attend church somewhere every Sunday), this period of time has been the most spiritually fruitful that I have ever experienced. I still pray intensely, journal, read Scripture and spiritual books, connect with other believers in the Body of Christ and love Jesus, probably in a deeper way than I ever have. I know that there are many “non-traditional” ministries out there. I am going to pray about exploring those further. There is also teaching- which is my first love anyway and usually does not require working on the weekends. In fact…..some teachers actually get the whole summer off…..hmmmmmm……..