Tuning our Ears for a Sabbatical

Sabbaticals are a time for tuning our ears for listening carefully, for discerning the texture and quality of our own paths, for attending to God’s unceasing, creative plea amidst the noise of cultural pressures, the busyness of life, and our own self-limiting habits. Sabbaticals are for pastors and for congregations.

I will be going on sabbatical from May 16 to August 15, 2022. You are invited to join me in your own way and discern. Some of our Sabbatical discernment may be straightforward. We will travel, we will attend, we will carry on. We may need to curb a habit, or we may need to follow through on a responsibility.

Cultivating a spark of servanthood in the ongoing process of discernment, which I think is the more subtle invitation of the Sabbatical, is not always so straightforward. It involves a radical and risky self-evaluation and a commitment to rethink and rework everything we know and are. God is always calling us into a more generous place so that we can love and serve ourselves and one another more authentically.

What will that look like for each of us? We might have images in our minds as to what we ideally should be. But perhaps sometimes the ideal is less important than the real. The spiritual life is not a generic undertaking. Rather, it involves the unique encounter of a particular person with a God who dares and continues to dare to be incarnate in human form. The spiritual life is never twice the same. Always utterly new, always surprising, the human meeting with God through the discernment of the Spirit invites us to become listeners to God’s voice heard among the multitude of voices crowding the human heart.

We must be open to hear the surprising message it may bring. “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” Mark 4:9.

Shalom, Paul