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.