As I prepare for my Sabbatical to begin -- I can begin to count in hours rather than days or weeks -- I do so with great expectancy. I am by nature a planner -- especially when traveling. I want to know where I am going and what I'm going to do. It is a matter of preparation, I suppose. And I think everything is in place for the sabbatical -- at least all the plane reservations have been made, housing arrangements made. I am, you might say, excited about what is going to transpire over the next three months.
I go forth on this adventure, expecting that it will be transformative. It will be a time of rest (no meetings -- though I've already broken that rule and planned for a meeting of an organization for which I am president). My trip to England will fulfill a long held dream. I am by training a British historian, but have never been there. I am looking forward to walking across Oxford, exploring London, visiting Bath, Stonehenge, and Salisbury. I'm looking forward o spending time in the Bodleian Library, delving into the writings of Thomas Brett -- that Nonjuroring Bishop whom I have studied from afar. But I also expect to meet God along the way. Perhaps it will be in worship at Oxford's Cathedral (interior pictured).
If I am to experience this time of renewal and transformation it will come in the midst of my encounters for the Living God, whose steadfast love "is better than life." It is in those thin places, where heaven and earth come into contact that we fully realize this reality. I am expecting to experience these thin places, even if I don't yet know where this will occur. In any case, my longing is moving through the stages of preparation so that I can find refreshment for my spirit by encountering the Spirit of God.
O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
[Psalm 63:1-4 NRSV]