The Plan

Since this blog is going to be about my sabbatical I thought it would be nice to give you an update on what my plans are for this time. During my last sabbatical eight years ago, I cycled across the United States from Washington State to Maine. It was a great time and one that I will always cherish, but as I began to think about this upcoming sabbatical I wanted it to be more eclectic, varied in what I want to do and accomplish. In all probability this will be my final sabbatical as I am 62 years old with retirement staring me in the face. This potential future is driving what I will be doing during the next three months as I discern where my own life and ministry will take me. The first week or so will be time to decompress. This part is important, at least for myself. Being the single priest in a parish requires every part of me to be present. My physical presence in the office and at the Altar, my spiritual presence in the daily prayers, my emotional presence as I listen to people in various places in their own lives. Uncoupling from this is not as easy as it sounds, especially for someone who has been here for as long as I have. For better or worse, this parish and I are joined at the hip and when they are anxious, hurting or just down, I am also anxious, hurting and down. The key to mental survival is to try and recognize where my own anxiety is so that I can be an effective leader during times of deep concern. Of course, that’s easier said than done and over the years I have made my share of mistakes but I have also had my share of joys, it’s all in how one approaches their life and ministry. That being said, my time away will be one of prayer and listening to the winds of the Spirit as they blow through my life. Of course part of my time will be spent cycling, I plan on at least two centuries, one on the North Shore and one in Delaware and there could be a couple more. I also plan on riding in Western Massachusetts with the goal of cycling up Mt. Greylock. Visiting family, especially my sons and their families down on Delaware is also a huge part of my plans. We have three grandkids down there and only being able to see them a couple of times a year is difficult for both my wife and I. The reason why we are looking toward Delaware as we slowly inch forward to retirement. Speaking of retirement, the big question is “what will I do?”
That is part of this time away as Jane and I start to process what it means to be retired. Someone said to me that “you can’t play golf everyday” so considering I don’t play golf, I guess I need to look within and tap into those hidden gifts that I have yet to use. One thing that I am going to work on is my desire to write. Write what? Good question, so I have enrolled in a one day intensive at the Gotham Writers School in NYC focusing on Memoir writing. As you read this blog you will definitely notice that I have a long want to go as a writer, so I am looking forward to this class and possibly more. Of course, beyond writing a blog, I also intend on just writing daily as a discipline to get myself in the habit. I figure anything I write from free from to dialogue to remembrances can only help me to improve.
Beyond writing and cycling, we are also taking a trip over to Ireland, England and Wales. Part of this trip is for fun, part is to visit where my family came from, and part to spend time at Gladstone Library. Towards the end of my time away I will then go on retreat at the Holy Cross Monastery as a way to gather up what I have thought about over the sabbatical.
So, that’s my plan. Of course someone once said that if you want to make God laugh then just tell Him your plans, I think I hear some chuckling.