A friend told me that going on a sabbatical was disorienting. The first week or so my friend said that he, after putting down his role as a pastor, had to work to discover again who he was -down deep. At a basic level. Apart from his role as pastor.
I'm not sure about that but it is going to take several days for my "motor" to slow down.
Honestly, I am curious about what God is going to do during the next three months. I already feel lighter. For the last three days I have been in a coastal town in southwest Michigan. It's one of our favorite places. A lovely beach, a simple bed & breakfast three blocks from North Beach, a picturesque marina with boats lined up along a river that divides the town, and water that has been stirred up by a steady west wind. I've been walking, reading, swimming, and stopping. I want to enjoy my new iPod but the music of the water keeps me from inserting those earbuds and shutting out the world with the music of Mariah Carey, Mark Knoffler, Vince Gill, Puccini, or Bering Strait. As good as the music may be I'd rather hear the waves meet the sand.
Tonight I twice walked out on the jetty that leads out to a navigation light. The waves were rolling along the steel plates along side the breakwater. I found myself thinking about all the times when, as a young boy in northwest Alaska, I would wander down to the shore of the Bering Sea. There was something about the water that drew me.
When I need to be renewed, when I need to step away, I often find myself either on or near water. Not sure why. So tonight I walked the beach -after taking the risk of swimming in water that was more than bracing. Here I am walking along, watching, and swimming in Lake Michigan. Later in this three month journey I'll be spending 8 days on the North Atlantic. And, near the end of the clergy leave, I'll be in Florida...walking those Gulf beaches. Swimming in those warmer waters. (Assuming swimming in the Gulf of Mexico is still something people are allowed to do!)
Maybe it has something to do with those words in Genesis when we are told that the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God brought light out of darkness, form out of chaos, dry ground out of water. It's interesting that when people in 1st century Palestine people wanted a new start with God they went out to the Jordan River to be immersed in those tea-colored waters. Baptism in the waters of the river were a place where people began a new chapter. I even find myself thinking of the time in the Old Testament when a great Syrian general, who was suffering from an incurable skin disease, showed up and a Jewish prophet told the man -Naaman- to go bath in the waters of the Jordan River. Plain old water didn't seem like something God could use to heal something so serious, the great general thought.
But water can heal. Water seems to provide me with a space...and in that space God works.
It has been a good day. A beautiful day. A peace-full day.