I work in a people environment. Sure I spent time thinking about organizational systems, theology, counselling and what not…but the real bedrock of my vocation is people. During a sabbatical one of things that gets incredibly effected is my contact with people. Some I see too little, other’s too much. Some I see too casually and others I nearly stalk. Some people I wish I never heard from and others I genuinely missed. People have proven to be the single greatest source of disequilibrium during my sabbatical.
First off, it wasn’t “that” bad. I mean come on…a sabbatical is never bad! I did find however that I experienced a stark trade-off in my relationships. During my sabbatical I was afforded the opportunity to spend a great amount of time with my kids and life-partner, especially my preschool son. That was excellent. Getting to spend this incredible amount of time with them was a real benefit. In fact, my partner and I anticipated that this increased home time would actually be tough on us so we had planned several intentional scheduling conflicts – just so we had “outs” in case we were getting on each other’s nerves. This just didn’t happen. It was a very affirmed situation. We laughed, played and found a different pace with each other.
The trade-off was the greater sense of disconnection with the community of faith in which I serve and my family shared space with. This disconnection took some very expected shapes – namely, we didn’t see the majority of our community for between 3.5 to 6 months (my kids were away longer than I was due to summer travelling). This amount of time away has a natural distancing effect on people which we were fully aware of and expected. This disconnection took an unexpected turn though in challenging us about each of us individually connect to our community. Because we’ve never had the opportunity to reflect (in a depressurized manner) “why” we’re part of this community it was interesting to hear from each member of my family why they did or didn’t miss our faith community. Some of the reasons and feelings were unanticipated and difficult to process.
With a disconnection from community though I was able to find some perspective. I realized that years of work, people, conflict, joy and all the rest had built unwanted defences in me. I realized there were some chips on my shoulder that needed to be knocked off. Those who I actually missed were not those who I wanted to miss. This new perspective helped shape some of my sabbatical priorities – the same priorities that I hope to focus on now that I’m back. Disconnection definitely occurred. Most of it was healthy and beneficial. Some of it may not been all roses and rainbows – we’ll have to see how the reconnection goes.