A sabbatical, with its roots in the word “sabbath”, promises a time of rest, reflection and renewal to anyone fortunate enough to be granted one. The Vestry and Rector of St. Alban’s have given me such an opportunity after 17 years of service to this parish, and I am grateful. A few people had wondered if my sabbatical was meant to be a big secret (no!), so I thought it best to use my forum here to be more public with my plans.
Beginning a few weeks after Easter and continuing through August, I will find ways to do all those things that a sabbatical promises. I have plans to travel in ways that I have never traveled before – three weeks on the Camino with my son, as we travel that pilgrim’s path in northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela, and another extended walk with my daughter along the coastline of Wales in August (trying to avoid the St. Alban’s J2A group that will also be in Wales in August!). I want to spend some time at a Writing Workshop with nearly five years worth of these Daily Cups and see if something cohesive and interesting can come of them. And I will be traveling to England with a choir from another church as their accompanist for their residency at Durham Cathedral, giving me a chance to observe a colleague’s work with his choir and gaining a different and valuable perspective on choir tours, after leading four of my own. In between, I plan to spend time with several different colleagues at churches around the country, exploring new ideas and ways of doing things that can only be discovered in person.
I don’t know what I will learn or what I will bring back to St. Alban’s. I don’t know how I might be changed. I can really only hope that I will return with a renewed joy in making music and increased energy for the work of this place.
But first, preparation for Lent, Holy Week and Easter. You would think, after nearly 30 years of planning liturgies, that it would get easier, but somehow the years have caused me to care more, and the planning gets more difficult as I increasingly see the value of liturgy well done. Sunday worship is at the heart of what we do as faithful Christians. Not a Valentine-shaped heart, but a real, blood-pumping heart that gives life to everything else we do. The sabbath that Sunday represents is meant for your rest, reflection and renewal, so that you can return to the world with new insights and vigor. Thank you St. Alban’s for granting me a sabbath of my own.