In a less than a month, I will begin my sabbatical. I admit I am looking forward to it with great anticipation. However, this time away would not be possible without the generosity of so many in the parish. I don’t know who you are, but I thank all of you who gave toward my sabbatical. I am amazed and humbled at the outpouring of funds. Last year the church applied for a sabbatical grant from the Lilly Foundation. We did not receive that, and to be honest, I was worried. I thought I might be spending three months mostly at home, which would have its own enjoyments. That was not meant to be, however. Thank you so much for allowing me this incredibly memorable summer.
On May 25, Steve and I will leave for Montreal, where we will spend a couple of days exploring, and then catch a ship on the 27th that will cruise down the St. Lawrence River. I spent many summers in parts of Canada, as my family fished and camped in a variety of places, but I have never seen Quebec. For Steve and I, this will be a second honeymoon after 33 years of marriage. We will travel down the St. Lawrence to Nova Scotia and the Maritimes, and end up in Boston.
On June 13, we leave for Spain. My niece and her mother, a dear friend of ours, are meeting us there. We will fly to Madrid, and while there, go to the Corpus Christi Festival in Toledo. For Anglo Catholics and liturgical geeks like me, this is heaven on earth. The Corpus Christi (body of Christ) festivals in Spain are famous, and the Toledo one is the greatest of all. There is a procession of priests, bishops, and those in holy orders, all following an enormous monstrance that holds the Body of Christ, a very large communion wafer. In medieval times, when the poor were not “worthy” to take communion in church, there developed a tradition called “Ocular Communion,” in which people would receive the efficacy of Eucharist by gazing at the Host (wafer). This is why the host was elevated in the Eucharistic Prayer. It is also why festivals such as Corpus Christi came to be – so that people could “receive Christ” through holy gazing. I am very excited about going to the festival – as much as I hate crowds, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience , and a great pilgrimage that fits with my love for liturgics and the sacraments.
From there we will travel to Torremolinos, a small town on the Mediterranean. Our friend rented an apartment there, and it will be home base for about 10 days of relaxation and sightseeing in the province of Andalusia. I hear that going to Spain is a pilgrimage in itself. If one pays attention to the culture, it can change the way one lives. I hope it will teach me many things.
In July, Steve will be working, and I will go on retreat, first at the Jesuit Center in Pennsylvania, and then up to Holy Cross Monastery in New York. Both are silent retreats; one with a Spiritual Director, and one without. While there, I will go visit my son David, who is currently in the Saratoga area, working on his qualifications as a nuclear engineer for the Navy. When I return home, another dear friend from California is visiting the East Coast for the first time, and boy do I have a lot to show her!
In August, Steve and I will travel to the West to see family and friends, in Albuquerque, Denver, and California. We’ll enjoy the hot, dry climates, our friend’s pool, and spending time with people we see once every year or so. I will return to work on August 27.
Again, I cannot thank you enough for this opportunity to rest, and re-create. Both Bishops tell me that I will feel differently about ministry, and see things differently when I return. After 13 years of ministry, I look forward to good things that God will teach me while I am away. You are in good hands. Jan and Vern will take good care of the parish, as they have over the last two years. The Vestry is an amazing group of people. Jill runs the office like clockwork, and is there to help you in any way she can. And Fr. Ron Fisher is a wonderful pastor and preacher. With Tuesdays at Tom’s, VBS, and National Night Out, there will be fun ac-tivities along with great services on Sunday. Be well, love God, and do the work of ministry. You are loved.