By far, time is the most precious commodity. If there’s anything at all I’ve learned in almost 60 years, it’s that nothing means as much, costs as much, or gives a better return on investment. Time to do; time to get done. Time to go; time to return. Time to talk; time to listen.
Time to be.
I’ve been gifted this very thing from the wise people who oversee my workplace – the church at which I’ve found gainful employment for over 16 years now. After two of the most challenging, exhausting years any of us have experienced, our Steering Team decreed that the leadership pastors step back, take a break, and replenish their souls. Granted a six-week sabbatical from meetings and daily to-do lists, we were charged with resting, spending time with our families, and turning our hearts and minds toward some sort of project that would equip us to continue our ministry for what’s to come.
It’s the best gift ever, and as I planned for my time away last fall, we mapped out boatloads of joy. A week away with my husband, to see two of our kids in their West Coast lives. A week holed up at the beach, pursuing solitude and prayer. Time in a recording studio, working on a solo piano project. Reading, writing, resting…I felt certain that I’d end 2021 filled with all the good things that would come from six weeks of intentional rest.
But it didn’t happen.
My friends gathered around me, prayed for me, and sent me off on what was to have been my final day of work in late September; and then, that night, I took my dad to the ER because he’d fallen. Thus began the three-week journey of surgery, recovery, rehab, another hospital stay…
And then, the end.
That final week was sacred, holy; and hard. Family time abounded, but in ways I had not expected. I ended up flexing my schedule dramatically, but not in the ways I’d anticipated. “Sabbatical” time became “Waiting”, turned to “Grieving” and left me filled with a new sort of knowledge, the good things we need to know in order to understand what it means to be alive – but the stuff we don’t always welcome, because it’s hard.
All that to say this: I planned for a Sabbatical last fall, but it didn’t happen, because my dad died.
So I rescheduled, and tried to make new plans. I’ll see family, and I’ll explore all those other things that I’d hoped to do. It’s the same amount of time, and it’s the same sort of odd process – waking up in the morning, thinking, “What do I have to do today?”
But I’m not the same.
I’m moving tentatively, carefully; slowly. I’m walking. I’m resting. I have a stack of books to read and some loosely held plans. I know what I hope to accomplish, more or less.
But mostly, I am learning to be content with this great gift: I have Time.
That, in itself, is enough.