When was the last time you did more than take a vacation? (Taking vacation time is essential , but vacations can also feel as busy as non-vacation time.)
Renewal periods are not vacations but times for intentional exploration and reflection, for drinking again from God’s life-giving waters, for regaining enthusiasm and creativity for ministry. From the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Page
Last week I was blessed with Renewal Time. It was neither a vacation nor sabbatical time, but it happened during a gathering of denominational colleagues at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico.
This is a post about the glorious gift of “the free afternoon” during conferences. If you are in charge of a weekend retreat or conference, please – for the love of God – schedule in a free afternoon.
It felt like a sin to use free time in northern New Mexico taking a nap, which is one of my usual top three renewal practices. Although napping outside surrounded by cloud cathedrals and rainbow mesas would have been okay.
One free afternoon last week, my soul was fed Lilly-Sabbatical-Style. It only took one afternoon driving along The High Road in Truchas and visiting galleries there and in Chimayo, NM.
It truly only takes one afternoon of soaking up the majesty of God’s creation – the buttes and rock chimneys of the Southern Rockies – while adding a few moments to marvel over what humans have created – the sculptures and paintings – to feel like a new person. The Lilly Foundation (jokingly called “The Church’s One Foundation” by some pastors I know) calls this the thing that makes your heart sing.
When was the last time your heart sang? And what can be done to make that happen more often?
It’s a question for Heads of Staff to ask their ministry teams. It’s a question for Personnel Committees to ask the pastors they supervise. It’s a question for parents to ask their children. It’s a question for children to ask their parents.
Life is short. October is busy. Let’s encourage each other to stop and breathe – even for a single afternoon.
Being retired, I now have lots of time to stop and breathe, and I appreciate that. As for my heart singing, that happens almost every week, usually on Thursday at 2 pm, when I leave the school where I read to first and second graders. Thursday is for second grade, students who saw me, in person, every week last year as first graders. They are so joyful. They are so expressive. They are so appreciative. They make my heart sing.
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