A sabbatical liturgy


I’m past the halfway point with this sabbatical now.  I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that, to be honest.  Time runs faster and faster, it seems to me.  Though, bit by bit, I am getting better at this walking slower thing!

There’s a part of me which my husband refers to as must-achieve.  Affectionately, I think!  When I express a frustration with myself for not being where I want to be (or maybe just not knowing where I’m up to) he sing-songs must-achieve, must achieve.  It’s annoying really.  The only good thing is that he is approximately as bad as me with this so I get to sing it back to him sometimes.

Anyway, the other day that part of me reared its head again.  As I felt my sabbatical seemingly slipping through my fingers, I tried to comfort myself with what it has meant to me so far.  I was wanting, I suppose, to quantify it.  To name what God has done with it so far.  To articulate how I have ‘Made The Most’ of it.  (Making The Most is itself a pretty crippling pressure if you allow it, of course.)  You can see why my husband of nearly ten years, the man who has seen this behaviour more times that he has had hot meals, sang must-achieve at me!

But, as I sat with the thought of this sabbatical, I felt God ask me what I would most remember of it in times to come.  And the answer to that is simple.  There has been a simple liturgy which has come to mean so much to me.  It’s a liturgy of granary baguette and hot soup.  Of friendship and joy.  It begins once every couple of weeks with a trip to Tesco to pick up bread and soup, to decide between doughnuts and cookies, before driving through southwest London to my friend’s house.  I arrive around the same time on each visit – just in time for lunch.  There we eat and drink coffee together.  And every time I see a change in her new baby, my god-daughter.  Born two weeks before my sabbatical began, she is growing and changing dramatically each time I go.

The quiet simplicity of this ritual has been a gift in this sabbatical.  The repetition of it.  Driving.  Shopping.  Arriving.  Eating or maybe waiting because a beautiful little girl is hungrier that we are.  Cuddling that lovely baby-softness or playing on the playmat next to her.  Washing up whatever is needed in this house where all the priorities have now changed, a house where feeding and sleeping and changing has been all-consuming for a time.  Gathering my things and saying my goodbyes as I try to beat the London afternoon traffic.  Not hurrying in any of it but living slow.

This will be my sabbatical memory.

This is a post in my sabbatical series.

2 thoughts on “A sabbatical liturgy

  1. Your blog touched me so much today!
    Two years ago this coming April I sensed God wanted me to leave my paid employment as Operations Dept Head in my church and I had no idea why.
    I, too am a “must achieve” person and the first few months were filled with worries and doubts as I entered a personal wilderness.
    In May last year my 89 year old mum was diagnosed with lung cancer. She might be 89 but she is still my mum!
    Myself and my sister decided that we would care for her and I wouldn’t trade what I’ve learned during this time for anything.
    I’ve seen God work in the tiniest of details as we’ve watched Him answer the childlike prayers of our mum and ours too.
    So i too, when asked what memories i will take from this time it will be that we took the time to go on holiday together, to eat fish and chips, to visit garden centres, to laugh until we cried, to video as many memories that Mum could recall. Her motto has been, “live, love, laugh and carry on regardless”. She has inspired me to believe more for the precious things, the small things and that God is in the detail of life!
    Enjoy the rest of your sabbatical, i look forward to your next instalment.
    God bless
    Mavis x

    • Thank you, Mavis. I hope that each day will be filled with precious memories with your mum that you and your sister will be able to enjoy forever. And you are right: it is the seemingly small things which end up being the most beautiful in the end. I wish I could learn that more completely in my own life.

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