The purpose of a sabbatical is to be renewed, restored, replenished. The clue is in the name: sabbatical – sabbath meaning ‘to cease’, or ‘to stop’.
In the Church of England this is offered to minsters periodically, and ministers may use it for further study and exploration of some aspect of ministry that has not been possible otherwise.
I am going to be away from The Living Well for 3 months (Nov, Dec and Jan) over the winter experiencing this longer rest and study period.
For the first month I shall be on personal retreat in Cornwall at a small family run Christian Retreat Centre called Treargel. They are in the Retreat Association Handbook and you can find them here http://www.treargel.com/
The unique selling point for me is their strapline: Breathe deeply, Rest quietly, Think clearly.
Whilst in Cornwall I shall be visiting, making a journey or pilgrimage to local ‘holy wells’ of which there are apparently some 400. (No way!)
As Chaplain to The Living Well at Nonington it seems good to me to hear the stories of the ‘saints of yore’ and what happened whilst at these ancient sites which provided not only vital fresh water to drink but were local places of blessing… and often stories of spiritual renewal, healing and holy encounter accompany them.
For the other 2 months I shall be at home. I plan to have the best Spring Garden ever as I can garden to my hearts delight; I will visit friends and family as I read, pray, journal, and attend to my own spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing.
Weekly I will use West Malling Abbey for a ‘day of prayer’ and be focusing my reading on faith development.
I am fascinated by the way that our faith does or doesn’t develop. Intrigued by the way sometimes we are confident of our faith and other times it is like sand through our fingers. I am fascinated how faith in groups of people develops…what happens when a leader of a group is struggling and what effect does that have on the group as a whole? I am not anticipating easy answers. I am hoping for pointers to help us all grow and not to get stuck, or wander off, or lose our faith and hope in the God who I understand to be very patient and gracious with us. God is always doing something if we can but sense the presence of His Spirit….
Please encourage and support the capable Core Team as they oversee the next months, I know they will be brilliant! Enjoy Advent and Christmas and I look forward to returning to be with you in February with the Snowdrops – unless they come early!
You will all be in my prayers,