I’ve just finished the first month of my sabbatical. To say it’s been interesting is an understatement! I have enjoyed the gift of having time to do things I’ve had to put off because of my regular work schedule. I’ve been tending to things around the house, visiting family, spending more time with Rod, Eric and Jen, and doing a bit of reading. I have also been going to the jail (Worcester County House of Corrections) once a week which has been a great experience. What I have found most interesting, though, is that, even though I have been busy, I spent the first two to three weeks just trying to adjust to not being at church every day. I felt a bit disoriented—not sure what to do first—feeling like I should be doing something, but not sure exactly what. It’s only been in the last week that I can honestly say I have relaxed a bit. I think many of us define ourselves by what we do, and I have been doing things of one sort or another since I started my first job at age 13! Without that “doing,” I wasn’t exactly sure how to proceed. My guess is that this may be what retirement initially feels like.
Disorientation aside, the work I have been doing in the STOP program at the jail has been incredibly rewarding, stimulating, and eye-opening. I have spent a great deal of time talking one-on-one with inmates who suffer from addiction with regard to their experiences of growing up in addicted homes. Many of their stories are riveting and heartbreaking. I was in California at the Betty Ford Center the last week of June (just prior to the start of my sabbatical) to learn from Jerry Moe, Director of the Children’s program there. The program is meant for children of alcoholics and addicts, and my goal is to start a similar program in Webster next year. My hope is to offer the program to the children of the incarcerated addicts, and perhaps children in Webster. I’ve also set up a system whereby inmates who will be leaving the jail can establish a relationship with clergy in the Worcester area. Our hope is that this kind of relationship will provide a much more positive influence to the inmates as they work to remain clean and sober.
My plan for the month of August is to continue with the things I’ve been doing, but to also focus on my own spiritual renewal. I really couldn’t do so during this first month because the sense of disorientation was a bit too distracting. I needed to ground myself physically and mentally before I could go deeper spiritually. I think I’m ready now.
I miss everyone at church, and I am praying for all of you every day. I ask for your prayers for me as I continue the next leg of my sabbatical.
Love and blessings,