Into the third week of my sabbatical now and things are starting to settle down and a different rhythm to life is emerging; a mixture of walking, reading and chilling mixed with the excitement of having a bit more time to visit family and friends.
I spent this last weekend in Oldham visiting Judith, a very dear friend, and spending time with some of the Church folk at one of my first Churches, Hollins Millgate. It was lovely to see them all again, and to feel as though we simply picked up where we had left off 19 years ago when I was a young (!), fresh-faced (!), naive (certainly) Probationer Minister. Oldham, as my very first Ministerial appointment, will always have a special place in my heart. The good folk of the Chapel and also of Limeside Chapel also graciously filled in some of my hearing questionnaires meaning that side of my sabbatical is up and running. So far there are over 100 such questionnaires out and only 15 returned so I look forward to receiving more over the next week or so.
Spent a lovely time with the family on Monday, with Rebecca, Michelle, Vikki and Mark (and our future grandchild, the bump!) and that was special. I really do love them all.
Today I`m going to travel up to see Dad for a couple of days (should`ve gone yesterday but circumstances delayed it by a day) and tomorrow on to see Andrew, my brother, who is in hospital at the moment for a knee operation.
That is what is special about this time; it makes you aware that you lay so much aside for Ministry and for the Church that the relationships that most people rely on become the very ones at risk because there isn`t the time to pursue them properly. In my `low` times I sometimes wonder if the Church fully grasps the sacrifices made by Presbyters and Deacons in pursuance of serving the Church. That is not a grumble, merely and observance.
But then the Church does something special and grants three months in which that time can be recovered, or at least some of it, and this is why I am thoroughly appreciating the gift of time that I`ve been given. In few other professions is time granted to `simply be`.
Thank you all so much