Sunday, March 10, 2013

Coming and Going

The summer of 2013 is a transitional year for our blended household. We are planning our sabbatical to honor the changes that our family is undergoing. Let me introduce them.

Josh is our social worker. A recent graduate with his MSW, he is working near our home in a first-rate drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. I think of him as the guy that people meet at the door when they enter the facility. He has seen and heard a great deal in this field.

His current position is a temporary one - and he would really like to get a permanent job. This will free him to get a place of his own. . . and to move on with his future. We fully expect that this year is his year!

Lauren is our artist. She has been working for a year after receiving her B.A. in art therapy. She loves non-representative sculpture (i.e. iron girders that make you wonder what they are), is a talented photographer, and has even spent some time at the anvil in a blacksmith shop.

Currently she works at a senior center in the community, arranging for activities and providing their needs. She wants to further her education with an M.A. in art therapy. Nazareth College and Springfield College have accepted her, and she will decide soon which one she will attend. Lauren expects to begin her studies in the fall of 2013.

Katie is currently a junior at a state university, about four hours from home. We describe her as a people-person, noting her wide circle of friends and her engaging personality. Her major is Hospitality Management, and she dreams of running a resort or hotel. She would be a natural.

In the meantime, she is enjoying her college years. Education is running neck-and-neck with her social life. It looks like she is learning her major both inside and outside the classroom. Her grades are good - she has ended up on the dean's list each semester. But with one year to go, it's time for her to focus on what she will do and where she will go.

Meg is finishing high school. Or rather, with three months before graduation, she is emotionally finished with high school. She is our academic star, taking tough courses, getting astronomical grades, and doing a full slate of extracurricular activities. She is the kind of kid that suburban parents brag about, but her schedule is simply exhausting.

She is the youngest in the foursome of young adults in our household. She has been accepted at three universities and waits to hear from four more. We suspect that she will making her college choice soon. This will be her last year under our roof.

So we are planning some occasions to spend some time together as we work through this transition. Jamie and I enjoy these four offspring of ours, but they are moving on. We know it, they know it. And we want to make the most of this remaining time that we have with them. We love each one of them very much.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Why For?

What will renew me? What activities, practices, and insights will refresh me as I continue my work? That's what this post is all about - the theme of this upcoming sabbatical.

I suppose many people could observe me for a while and make a few prescriptions. "Don't do so many things" - easy advice from an outsider who doesn't share my array of interests. "Slow down" - an odd suggestion from anybody who never observes the widely varied pacing of my days. "Take care of yourself" - the quintessential Baby Boomer expression of self-indulgence; truth is, many of my age bracket are actually addicted to themselves and their own whims.

No, something deeper is needed: the Spirit's Music is what I call it. Something like the blending of melody, harmony, and rhythm in all the dimensions of my life. This was the governing theme of the sabbatical proposal that I submitted to the Lilly Endowment. For me, a sabbatical can be refreshing in four ways.

  • Relationships have a tonality and syncopation about them. A sabbatical is a season to tune up our connections to the people who are significant to us.
  • Silence is never quiet. Solitude is the occasion for deep conversing with the Composer of our lives. This promises insight, comfort, and vocational clarity.
  • Nature sings, and mostly we speed along the paved highways too quickly to pick up creation's tune. It is time to get out of the car and walk, hike, and admire our beautiful planet.  
  • The performing stage is where musicians impart their insight and wisdom. Since my job involves "working weekends," there are few occasions to hear the masters of music-making.

So this suggests my plan. The sabbatical will begin after church on Father's Day, June 16, and run through the 15th of September. These ninety days will focus on these four recurring situations where the Spirit can make some life-giving music.