Back When We’re Through with Blooming

Untitled-2We love our work. We love doing ministry here at Cedars. We love working with Chris and Candee and all the lay leaders in the congregation. We love spending Sunday mornings with you and other days and evenings as well. We love living on Bainbridge Island and in Kitsap County. We love our little home in Winslow.

Yet, even as much as we love our life here, taking a break from the rather all-encompassing world of ministry is a real blessing. We are lucky to be in one of the few professions that understands and values sabbaticals. We are so grateful that you good folks at Cedars are supporting us in this short but significant break in our regular routine (Jan. 15-May 15, 2013).

Breaks like this can make a big difference in maintaining a long-term ministry. We want to stay at Cedars for many years. But to do so well, requires of us constant re-tooling of our skills, refreshment of our spirits, and filling the cup of our knowledge. Taking short sabbaticals over the course of many years can help us grow and blossom among you.

We’ll be doing some interesting things while we’re away. Lots of travel in the US, plus stopovers in England en route to and from a long desired destination— Israel—and a return to one of our “heart places”—Ireland. We’ll preach on Easter Sunday near London and then attend Unitarian services in both Dublin and Belfast.

We’ll also be in learning mode. Jaco will work on creating a hopefully publication-worthy collection of our “Spiritual Strengths” sermon series while Barbara learns how to use Dragon Dictate, a voice recognition technology. Both of us will attend the latest UU Ministers Association “Institute”—a week long program of study for over 400 UU ministers, and Barbara will begin a two-year collegial program on contemporary preaching and worship.

And we’ll spend some good time with family, including both of our elderly parents and our siblings, too, all of whom live a long way away from our island and who miss us as much as we miss them.

But a sabbatical is not for us alone. We challenge you to reflect on who you are apart from us. What skills can you sharpen? What gifts can you give? What will you want to share with us when we return? (You can also learn more on the Cedars Sabbatical webpage.)

Time away from routine can make a real difference in all of our lives. It doesn’t mean we won’t miss you; we will, very much so, and hope you’ll miss us, too! But this time apart can be a season of blossoming and blooming for all of us. Enjoy all the wonderful guest speakers; take part in classes and programs; help get our new office up and running; and support each other in your ongoing spiritual growth. When we return, we’ll all be stronger and ready to re-engage at a new and deeper level.

Expect to hear from us (via this newsletter) occasionally during the sabbatical. We won’t be reading Cedars email but will have a way of getting news of any large emergencies, as needed. Trust your Sabbatical Committee, the board and staff to help keep the ship on course. We are confident all will go well.

As a parting gift, we offer you this wonderful poem from our friend and colleague Lynn Ungar. Read it now and again and think of us. We’ll do the same. And we promise to come “back when we’re through with blooming.”

Camas Lilies
by Lynn Ungar

Consider the lilies of the field,
the blue banks of camas
opening into acres of sky along the road.
Would the longing to lie down
and be washed by that beauty
abate if you knew their usefulness,
how the natives ground their bulbs
for flour, how the settlers’ hogs
uprooted them, grunting in gleeful
oblivion as the flowers fell?

And you—what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down—
papers, plans, appointments, everything—
leaving only a note: “Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through with blooming.”

Even now, unneeded and uneaten,
the camas lilies gaze out above the grass
from their tender blue eyes.
Even in sleep your life will shine.
Make no mistake. Of course
your work will always matter.
Yet Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.

Barbara and Jaco signature