Thoughts As My Sabbatical Ends

I’ve been physically away from you all for a month. I’ve done a bit of traveling and a lot of reading, writing, thinking and resting. I’ve had a doctor appointment — a follow-up from my hospital visit 3 months ago, a couple massages, and treatments for my back. I’ve finished one quilt top and started on another, planted some flowers, and done a tiny bit of work on my house.

I’ve watched the attendance numbers sag while I’ve been away, and the contributions are not keep up with what I know the basic monthly expenses are. I know it’s summer, our winter visitors have left for cooler climates, and more than a few folks have expressed displeasure with our continuing zoom services. I remember when Rev Donald took his sabbatical in summer 2016, our attendance dropped by 35%. Of course, that was also the summer the air conditioning was out at The Gregory (it was truly sweltering in that auditorium), so I’m sure that also had an impact. I’m grateful our Sunday attendance during May was only down 15%. Thank you to those who continued to participate in, and support, this spiritual community and those who chose to enjoy and support the speakers I deliberately picked for the Sundays I was elsewhere.

I devoured a bunch of books during the month I was away, both fiction and non-fiction, and I’ve thought a lot about what’s actually mine to do. Truthfully, the Visioning class I took in February jumpstarted the process for me. The final project for Visioning was to create a personal (life) vision statement. Mine: “I live as a lighthouse, a living sanctuary, involved and willing to be changed by the process. No matter what I do, I live as love.”

One of the books I’m still working my way through is Burnout, The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle (2019) by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. In the 2nd chapter, they wrote about reframing, and reconsidering the decisions we’ve made in the past, and how we might take another look at them. I’ll share my process with you, here.

The exercise is about redefining what success looks like for the reader, and it’s built around a goal that creates frustration instead of joy. I was stunned when I realized my answer to their question, which is what inspired me to share this with you all.

Frustrating Goal: Grow, support, and sustain CSLT, aka ‘Keep the wheels on the bus’. (I actually believed this was mine to do, and it’s not.)

Why is this frustrating? It’s not attainable for me to accomplish. I can’t make any of it happen.

What can I do instead? (Brainstorming, not all ideas captured are good ideas)

  • Share what I know, and continue to explore with individuals who engage
  • Speak, teach, facilitate, write
  • Support, encourage, guide (lighthouse)
  • Continue to explore my own spiritual (includes physical, mental, emotional) wellbeing, share what I learn
  • Encourage others to do the same
  • Fret over people who choose not to show up, or quit supporting this center (presumably because they feel it doesn’t support them the way they want to be supported.) Chase anybody, ever.
  • Express gratitude for those who do show up and participate.
  • Express gratitude for those continuing to connect with each other and this center.
  • Express gratitude for those engaging in their own spiritual (physical, mental, emotional) work.
  • Discover what self-care really looks like and do that.

Next, I get to choose a couple of these ideas and decide how to implement them most efficiently, keeping my vision for my life purpose firmly in mind. And remembering that if I’m not enjoying what I’m doing, I might want to think about that some more, and pick differently.

I look forward to being back with you soon. Big hugs. — Rev J

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