A wise person observed: "you never really take a nap. A nap takes you." Indeed!
In the same way, some people don't actually take a Sabbatical. A Sabbatical takes them. That's my story. And as I've shared my unexpected Sabbatical experience this past Spring, I find I am not alone. Some of us have been nearly blindsided by an abrupt need to STOP the madness and get away for a time of rest. But the invitation came. A previously unseen door opened. And we went.
I wish I had had the foresight, the planning, the imagination for what my soul most deeply needed back in March. But I didn't. For me, just being "in it" day after day, week after week, I had lost any imagination for what an extended time away to heal, play, and refresh might mean. Yet it was desperately needed.
The Psalmist knew God to be lovingly serious about this when he writes, "He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul."
Did you catch that? He MAKES me lie down! He LEADS me to places of rest! He RESTORES my soul. That same invitation is extended to you.
You may be the type who plans to take a Sabbatical. I applaud this! From what our team hears, even a planned Sabbatical can backfire without an actual plan for during the Sabbatical. Make sure you plan for that time well!
But sometimes, a Sabbatical just may take you. If that happens... my advice?!?
Let it. Dive in.
Over the past few weeks, we have had the great privilege of journeying with our most recent Sabbatical clients. What sacred spaces!
Following their faithful years of service in the US and beyond, this family was able to take advantage of several resources we offer to those on Sabbatical (see below). A reflection shared by text last Friday….
“You’re inviting people into the expanse of who God is. And today, I experienced His invitation to His expansiveness, just looking at the mountains. No more feeling trapped. No more feeling abandoned. So so thankful.”
That is exactly our desire. And more than our desire, we believe that is God’s desire to meet with his beloved in ways that remind them of the fundamental truths that can get lost in the busyness and pressures of daily life. God has provided this location, these views…. and we believe God is inviting us into the more.
We are invited into God’s expansiveness
We are not trapped; we are beloved and free
We are not abandoned; God is nearer than our very breath
Sometimes we take a sabbatical and sometimes the sabbatical takes us. But what do we DO with the gift of a sabbatical? While a sabbatical ‘plan’ might seem like a contradiction, we want to help you dive deep into what can be the most significant moment of transformation for you and your vocational life. Some who take Sabbatical fail to truly leverage this significant moment and, without intending, find themselves squandering an incredible opporutnity.
Below are some resources we offer to support a spiritually significant time on Sabbatical. Hopefully, this list will continue to grow and expand in the days to come! If we can be helpful to you or someone you know, please reach out. We are delighted to create Sabbatical Support Packages customized to meet a particular set of unique needs and desires.
A Soul Care Sabbatical
A sabbatical is a rare and precious gift, one that most leaders only receive once in a lifetime. But what do you do with this rare and precious opportunity? How do we make the best of a limited and rare time in our life and ministry?
Soul Care Sabbatical Resources are geared to provide a flexible but directive framework for your sabbatical time. The resources we suggest are intended to bring out the full richness of time away from the normal flow of work and ministry. Taken as a whole package, or only the portions that speak most to you during this season, we hope these will be a blessing to those who are ready to enter into an intentional season of rest, allowing the soil of their “productivity” to remain fallow so that new life can emerge.
Whether you plan to take a Sabbatical, or a sabbatical “took” you (which definitely happened to me this year!), consider if some or all of these resources might be of service to you or someone you know:
Meetings with a Soul Care Spiritual Director*
Spiritual Direction along the journey during a time of sabbatical can be instrumental in talking through theological, spiritual, or vocational transitions. Some clients have chosen weekly, or bi-weekly, or simply an opening and closing meeting to explore the spiritual significance of this time in their lives.
Soul Care provides individual spiritual direction via our well-trained and passionate spiritual directors. In spiritual direction, we provide a non-anxious, unhurried space in which we listen for God’s activity in the context of everyday life. (*For Duration of Sabbatical)
Opening Reflective Exercise & Debrief
A debriefing retreat is an extended time for sharing and processing the experiences that leaders have had while serving. It is a time for “unpacking” the highs and the lows, the gains and the losses, and all of the significant experiences in between. A debriefing is a guided process with facilitators who provide a safe and confidential space to reflect, share and process our stories, and be refreshed and renewed.
One of the most significant opportunities that a debriefing offers time to reflect and examine how we’ve experienced the events and circumstances of the particular season we have just completed.
Access to the Soul Care “Dream Shed”
At the Soul Care Ranch here in Colorado, we have a beautiful space for rest and retreat that is available to you. The Dream Shed can be a place where you go to simply detach from your everyday surroundings and spend some time listening to God and renewing your soul. Subject to date availability.
Personalized Reading and Reflection Resources
Based on your objectives, we provide carefully curated reading and study guides that can help you refocus on your soul and what contributes best to a healthy, thriving soul.
Personal Guided Retreat Times
Soul Care team members are available to guide half or full-day personal retreats at any point during a sabbatical. This can be done virtually or in-person, depending on the circumstances.
Life Plan Opportunity
Soul Care will coordinate a Life Plan process towards the end of your Sabbatical, to help you best discern and prepare for your re-entry with fresh vision for who God has made you to be, and your next season of contribution and service.
Have you ever had a sabbatical? If so, what advice would you offer to those who may experience a Sabbatical in the near future? What do you wish you had done differently?
And if you have never taken a sabbatical, what questions about it do you have? What barriers might exist for you to take this kind of time away?