Friday, January 07, 2011

If a Little Sabbath Time Is Good.....

First, a confession.

I've never taken a sabbatical.

Never taken renewal leave. Been under appointment since 1987.

I share that not as a source of pride, really more one of shame.

Because the truest part of that confession is that I'm jealous of those who do.

I covet (yes, covet, bordering on resent) the circumstances that allow my colleagues to do what I can't see myself doing.

How do I pay for it?

How can I leave my family with the burden of tending to the business of our living while I'm away -

How? It's so unfair to Kristy to leave her with that.

I've never had a question about the "why?" of the equation. My head knows the value of sabbath time. My soul has known its value in slight doses...dribbles here and there.

I took some sabbath time this week. Upon the invitation of my old pal, Ed, I traveled down to his place in south west Florida. My agenda was simple....nothing. Just be.

Ed was host, captain, cook, counselor.

Having had him in my home over the years since I was 8, no Jeffords had ever been to his place.

When he was at Covenant with me this September, our time together outside of the concerts and worship experiences was of the typical sort with dinner and conversation. He talked about his Florida home, on Manasota Key. He talked about "retreats" he's hosted when people he's worked with over the years are invited to come and share in some time way.

"You look like you could use one, Johnny." "You come down, I'll give you some date options. If you say 'no' to more than two or three options, I won't ask anymore."

Couldn't do the first was right before Israel. But the second one, I was on it.

So I spent Monday-Thursday of this week with The Grateful Ed. We sailed, listened to good music on the boat, talked about a lot of stuff. I went with him to a gig. Manned his table and sold his wares. I shared the current mix of The Travelling Cokesburys CD (soon to be released), which he liked but wanted to mix himself and sing on it with us. We jumped in at Eddie Boy Bay (sub 60 degree water - didn't stay long).

I don't want to overstate how wonderful the experience was...but it was really, really good.

I've left to go to plenty of things before...but usually always continuing education in nature. Conferences, workshops and the like. Most all of them have at least some part that's really good, and most all of them have a goodly part that's a big waste of time.

But that's not what this was.

No agenda, but to tack across Lemon Bay as the wind guided (and the weather was glorious).

No agenda, but to walk down the beach.

No agenda but to go to favorite eateries and sample the local cuisine.

No agenda but to watch the sunset and be glad.

I don't know if I could stand that everyday (I wonder). Holy Scriptures don't suggest everyday be like that. But the Hebrew Bible does talk about taking one day in seven to cease from just be still and know God.

That "commandment" is not for God's benefit, it's for ours.

And I was benefited mightily by an old of friend mine being a friend in ways I never expected, or deserved...

Isn't that what they call "Grace?"

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