Sabbatical Ponderings from Pastor Doug

September 23, 2019

Dear Bethany,

Thank you for this incredible sabbath time to move out of the rhythms of my pastoral role so that I can be more effective in our mutual ministry in Jesus Christ.  I have moved into a different pace and schedule with lots of leisurely reading, conversation, and time in nature.  I want to share a few surprises that have hit me. 

One is the realization of just how much of an extrovert I am.  I planned the launch of my sabbatical deliberately to be by myself at Ohanapecosh campground in Mt. Rainier National Park.  Bethany’s best Rainier experts had coached me into a rigorous day hike schedule and I looked forward to being completely unplugged from email, office, and honestly, people.  The first two days were great.  Grilled salmon and corn on the cob, and quiet reflection around the campfire.  But then, suddenly I found myself striking up conversations with every hiker on the trail and striving to engage otherwise busy store clerks and rangers.  I do relish occasionally pulling away to be with myself and my Maker.  In fact, I  schedule solo retreat regularly throughout the year.  But, oh my, I have been reminded just how much of a people person I am, through and through. 

The second surprise is that I broke my right big toe eight days before my much anticipated back pack trip in Yosemite National Park.  My friend Phil and I had been planning this for eight months and now it was toast.  Don’t even ask how I broke my toe.  It was a bike accident when I hit my front wheel brakes too strong.  Although I was only going five miles an hour, I toppled over the handle bars and came away with no head, collar bone, or wrist injuries; just the toe.  Only I could figure out a way to do that!

When the X-ray came back and the podiatrist in southern California informed me that the toe would take 6-8 weeks to heal, I was crushed.  So much of my sabbatical involved hiking and walking, climaxing in a 5 day Vermont walk with my son in just four and a half weeks.  

But God has been good.  Phil and I had three fantastic car camping days at Mammoth.  And the toe healed enough that the Vermont trails with Ben were no problem.

The third surprise so far has been this longing for Bethany.  I miss you all so much.  I miss the staff, those great elders on Session, and above all the people I have come to love so very much.  I’ve even thought of sneaking onto the balcony five minutes into worship just to be in the same room with you.  Certainly, some of this desire is my extraversion speaking.  Some of this is an itch to return to regular rhythms.  But really, bottom line, I like you, for the wonderful, brilliant, quirky, loving, committed congregation that you are.  That’s a real sabbatical gift.

Peace in Christ,

Doug