Day 68: Saturday November 18

The journal has been a bit on the back burner this week as I am in the thick of the data analysis chapter of the D.Min thesis – this is the bit I do NOT expect anyone else but the Thesis committee of Luther Seminary to read willingly, but it must be done!  It has been a good writing week, and it’s incredibly satisfying (and a relief) to know that there is now more written than needs to be written, which means I’m on track with my Sabbatical plan.  (Just in case you were wanting to know).  A few things are still on my “Sabbatical wish list”, one of which is to sort my many photos into usable digital files that are safely backed up.  Visual memory is an amazing thing,  a millisecond glance at a photo we’ve taken can lead us into a vivid memory of that moment. I find that reviewing my photos can often become a psalm of praise for the fullness and abundance of life; beauty of creation, people who have blessed my life with their presence, long or fleeting, places that have shaped my journey.  I think this is why we’ve adapted so quickly and thoroughly to the use of visual images to enhance our worship experiences; they lift us closer to those liminal spaces where we encounter the Divine in the midst of life.  Selah.

Day 67: Friday November 17

St. Elisabeth of Hungary

Do you have a “Name Day”?  Being of Roman Catholic origin, I do.  I’m named for a saint, St. Elisabeth of Hungary, so her feast day is my Name Day. While there are various traditions surrounding the keeping of a Name Day  – from it being a bit of a second birthday, complete with gift or a treat –  in my corner of the world, we were encouraged to treat this as an occasion to celebrate our place among the company of saints, living and dead, and to consider what our particular vocation in the world might be. Pretty heavy stuff, right?! Actually with a few years when the date passed without me noticing,  I have blended these traditions, I allow myself some treat (this year it was a packet of M & Ms, eaten in alphabetic colour sequence just because!) and I do ponder my vocation.   And this year, that’s not hard to do.  I’m up to my eyeballs in the middle section of my D.Min thesis, and in the last third of a sabbatical from the call that gives me life, joy and fulfilment as Minister at Cedar Park United.  I am indeed celebrating this Name Day.

Day 64: Tuesday November 14

I finished putting my garden to bed today. It does feel like that, putting a loved me safely snug against the dark, doesn’t it? I’m actually certain that all that raking, and covering of tender shrubs is not as necessary for the garden as it is for me.  If I’d left it alone, messy, and leaf strewn, the delphiniums would still rise from the soil in May, such is the strength of life. I think the necessity for me to be out there in the garden’s dying season has to do with our deepest longing to be connected with the community of earth,soil, life and death, and to figure out our place within it all.  For some of us, the work of gardening is a workout for the soul as well as the body.

Day 62: Sunday November 12

You sang thanksgiving, and ate cupcakes with green icing.  I know because our wonderful Martha posted photos to Facebook, and some sweet caring soul quietly and unbeknownst to me left one of those cupcakes by my front door! It reminded me of ‘days of yore’ when Julian of Norwich would receive food left outside her window, from the parishioners of the Norwich parish where she was “enclosed” as an Anchorite ( For more on her, see  this  link.  Not a vocation I have the talent for, it seems.  I am deeply, deeply missing the faith community of Cedar Park as we turn the corner into the final third of my/our sabbatical.  Sabbaticals are supposed to involve a bit of wilderness, so in the spirit of wisdom seeking, I will live into this “missing you,”  and plumb its depths to see what this might mean for the many who, for all sorts of reasons, find themselves cut off from the communities that give them life, support, solace and purpose.  I’m thinking, for example of our super-seniors who can no longer make the journey to church to share in cake with green icing;  or those whose work schedules mean they are providing services for others on a Sunday; or those who are just too overwhelmed with juggling family, life, work, home in this fast paced, demanding world.  And I think of those whose communities are destroyed by war, or by AR 15 rifles let loose by some lost soul.

Community is such a precious gift, one I am coming to cherish ever more deeply.  How will we care for, cherish, the community that cares for us? What will we do to cherish the global community of life on earth?  Sunday  soul thoughts from your sabbatical minister.  I wonder what yours are? (comment below, or tell me in December!)