I was on the phone with Mom a couple days ago, and she said that my voice sounded much less stressed out. A couple of things ran through my mind. First, "Hey, my mini-sabbatical is working!" Second, "Wow, if she noticed a difference in my voice over the phone, I must have really needed this rest."
I guess I was pretty stressed out, more than I realized. I have been sabbaticalling for four days, now, and I really have noticed a difference. Only now, here comes the weekend! As we get closer and closer to Saturday night and Sunday, my anxiety about the worship services is rising, even though I know that everyone and everything is going to be just fine. My first-born, type A, perfectionist, people-pleaser self has a tough time completely letting it go, it seems. Hmm, imagine that.
It's good for me, though, (he said through clenched teeth.) I am trying to convince myself that this disconnected time is a spiritual discipline that will be renewing, refreshing, reinvigorating. However, in order to ensure that I am fully disengaged, I am actually physically leaving town. I am going to church with my grandma in Columbia this weekend! I hope the physical distance will help me feel better about the spiritual and emotional distance, somehow. Plus, Nanny is celebrating her birthday this sumer by having all her kids and grandkids come for visits at various times, and it's my turn this weekend!
And you know what else? I am realizing that my disconnected time is good for the congregation, too. In order to be an effective pastor in an itenerant system, you have to lead by equipping and empowering the laity rely on themselves to be church. Too many UM clergy lead as if they are called to a congregation rather than being sent to serve in the connection. If the pastor is out of the picture for a few weeks, it should bring focus to the strengths of the congregation. I've always said that the true beauty of a healthy itenerancy is how it makes for strong congregations led by faithful laity, a powerful facet of Methodism ever since the beginning.
I have also decided to try to turn my sermon series on the book of Galatians into a book. So I am transcribing sermons with the thought that each of the five will be a chapter of the book. So far, so good. It is fun, engaging, and actually quite fulfilling. And so, as far as mini-sabbaticals go, I'd have to say this is the best one I have ever taken!