I am not sure how long it is going to take me to quit writing a 1 and go to a 2 for the year, but in fairness I have been writing a 1 first for ten years. On this day, the first day of January everyone I know is already sick of the best of the year lists and probably are sick of “A new decade” is upon us. No amount of arguing is going to to convince some people that the new decade begins with a “1” not a “0.”
No only have I seen the “best” lists for last year but for the last ten years. I don’t intend to add to them. I am not sure I could if I wanted to. I am fickle when it comes to books and movies and music. I like what I like at the time I like it!
Today, I begin a month long study leave. The 2016 United Methodist Discipline (PP 350.2) allows and encourages a month long study leave every four years. Truth be told, in my experience, I don’t know very many UMC clergy that actually take a leave to study and read and pray. I have only taken one myself and that was 9 years ago. Both this time and the last time it was possible because my Staff Pastor Parish Committee supported and endorsed it AND I had and have capable staffs who cover all the worship and preaching and pastoral care and administrative functions.
I am not good about letting go. I was supposed to have vacation time with family beginning the 27th and mostly I did. There was a funeral that I had helped plan and worked with a woman for several months. She died Christmas Day, so yes, I did that service on December 30, which meant phone calls and texts to make sure everything was ready for the service. On that same day, late afternoon, I removed my church e-mail from my phone and left the church laptop at the church. I knew that if I did not, I would be checking my e-mail regularly, even though I said I would not.
So, it is the first day of January, the first day of 2020 and the first day where I have no responsibilities at the church. When asked what I intended to do for a month I said, “Sleep until I am not tired, Read and read some more and then start sketching out a couple of books that I have been thinking about.” Interestingly enough, I have already started writing one book. I have been reading and actually sleeping. I look forward to feeling rested.
I don’t know what I will get “done” per se, but I am deeply grateful for the time away. Having time to ponder, to pray, to have space to read and wonder and to create is a gift. For all of it, I give thanks.