The latest entries are just below. My Sabbatical Journal for each of the previous weeks can be found each on their own page. You’ll note that the ‘travelog’ is over, as I have now taken up residence in my home study, where between pages on midrashic imagination, I muse on various topics, and post some of them to this blog. Enjoy!
Day 96: Saturday December 16
Perhaps it’s an appropriate activity to do on my last ‘secular Saturday’; a clear out of boxes and clutter in the basement! One reason is that the data files for the thesis must be stored for three years!(American academic bureaucracy is a weird and not so wonderful thing!) Most of it is on a flash drive, but there are paper copies of some materials, and now I need to cherish them like receipts for a potential CRA audit.
This has also been a week of taking care of medical business, the stuff of which you do not need to read, but can guess!!! The eyes? Lots of eye drops and strictly rationed screen time for the next week, but otherwise fine!
I had intended to write something profound for this the penultimate entry, but frankly, my brain is caught between post- thesis mental lassitude, and anticipation of “re-entry” tomorrow. What I shall confess to those of you reading this: I am more of an introvert than my pastoral occupation might have most people assume. I have indeed missed the community – a lot – but I have not tired yet, after 13 weeks, of the solitariness of this Sabbatical time. My soul, body and mind have thrived in the contemplative elements of this time, and my challenge will be how to bring some of that back with me into the bustle and busyness of this very active congregation for all our sakes.
Day 94: Thursday December 14
Ooops! Not a moment too soon, as they say. I ventured back to the computer screen on Tuesday, and my eyes were not happy. Tried again today, and the same thing. Off to the ophthalmologist in the morning. I’m guessing just strain, but wise to be sure!
Day 93: Tuesday December 12
That’s the first time in I don’t know how long, that I have not sat at my laptop for over 72 hours
There is a snowy, cold world out there!! I enjoyed the snow day on Tuesday, because unlike so many of you, I had no where I had to be! Making mince pies, and ginger cake, just because it smells so good on a cold day! There is rich grace in this, to know that in a week’s time, I will indeed have places to be again. Time is certainly a wrinkled, curious thing.
Day 92: Monday December 11
Celebrating the birthday of one of our children today, with a simple lunch and reminiscing. Such simple pleasures, not marred by the amazing organized (i hope!) chaos that is the Turcot yards! If they get all those roads to reconnect with one another in a couple of years, it will be little less than a miracle.
Day 90: Saturday December 9
DONE!!!!! That’s it. Just that. Done.
I am off to listen to Ceremony of Carols, and I can’t think of a better way to close this phase of writing than to shut the computer, and listen to Britten’s amazing choral work, a glimmer of holiness, light and hope in a war-darkened world (that was when he composed the piece). Please forgive in advance, the silence for the next few days on the journal. I’ll be back mid week next week.
Day 86- 87
Writing, piling books. Eye breaks. Tea breaks. Writing. I think Norman is somewhere in the house, but the poor man is a thesis widower! Spare a kind thought for this long-suffering spouse who has been so unwaveringly supportive.
Day 85: Whatever day it is. (I don’t even know if I’m counting right!!!)
Whoever thought “Literature Reviews” were a good idea,… I have opinions….. no, yes, none of that is printable! And to think, when I was in academic ministry, I used to enjoy writing book reviews. I’m over that, so over it! A quick look at the study floor, it looks like my bookshelf had a gastric upset!! I have had serious doubts that I can pull off this accelerated completion rate, and today nearly undid me completely, but the best revenge is success, right? Tomorrow we climb a little closer to the summit…..
Day 83: Sunday Dec 3
Sundays are the days when I feel most keenly my own absence from the community which nourishes my own faith. I’ve also noticed how easy it is for that morning to be filled up with other things… long gone are those days when Sunday mornings were empty of other public options… Now all sorts of activities beckon! So my hat goes off, and my heart goes out to all of you who choose to shape your weekends to include worship in community – whether you do that weekly, or monthly, or even rarely. Sunday blessings to you all.
Day 80: Thursday November 30
Back to the desk indeed, with the smell of Christmas baking still lingering from yesterday’s baking marathon. And a shift of gears to write what is arguably the kernel of this thesis: just what is a midrashic biblical imagination? This is the second chapter of the thesis, but I saved it to close to the end, because I truly wanted to let the experiences we’ve had as a community shape my answer to that question, and those experiences are recorded in later chapters,… which I wrote first. I think I’ve said it here before; I much prefer to be creating midrash than writing about creating it, but I am actually looking forward – a bit – to writing this now. In a nutshell: midrashic biblical imagination approaches the Biblical text with curiosity and openness to multiple possible understandings of a text. It trusts that when this ancient text meets each new generation or geographical context, new meanings emerge. And the sign of a good midrash? Do you have yet more questions, more curiosity than you started with? If the answer is “yes” that’s a GOOD thing!
Day 79: Wednesday November 29
One of the distinct gifts of a sabbatical is that you have a wide open schedule. So today, it was possible to set aside the prepping for the penultimate chapter in favour of introducing the newest grandson to the smells of Christmas baking. Sarah, our daughter, is the keeper of family traditions, especially around Christmas, so, despite the face that none of us need the extra calories, a Christmas Cake (traditional British DARK fruit cake) must be baked, puddings must be steamed, and pastry prepared for the butter tarts and mince tarts. I don’t think I’ve done this in November since, well since Sarah was herself a small child! (Certainly not while being Minister at CPU!!)
Once again, and for yet another reason, I am grateful for Sabbatical time! Tomorrow it will be back to the writing desk!
Day 77: Monday November 27
Another day, and another chapter is being proof-read one more time before being sent off for review. There was a week, back at the beginning of November when I despaired of the tight agenda I had set myself to complete this work before returning in mid December. There’s still a lot that could get derailed, and a lot of “rear in seat, door shut” ahead, but that week’s despair is replaced by a hopeful determination. Not a bad way to move into the Season of Advent, which is one of “preparation”, not the passivity of a waiting room.