Learning Curve

With anything new or different I face, there is a learning curve. From how to use this WordPress app to show a photo, to how to live into and experience my upcoming sabbatical. A week from today is Christmas and also is the first day of a twelve week sabbatical from my ‘part-time’ ministry position with Church of the Saviour. Over the next several weeks I will be challenged to structure my time and focus without the structure of employment and obligations of ministry. I have regularly had two and occasionally three week vacations. Those experiences were highly structured and scheduled time away. A sabbatical is different. I pride myself at being adaptable and open to new experiences especially at my ‘ripe old age’ of 69 1/2. I think my self perceptions are about it be challenged.

One of my plans during my sabbatical is to write and blog about my experiences. The learning curve has just begun (again).

Remaining curious,

Richard

Recess

“Inside of you is a boy who needs a recess.”

Last fall, I discovered (again) with the help of my Thursday evening men’s group that I needed a pastor. Being a pastor to others means a lot of listening, understanding, supporting, affirming and caring for others. I’m grateful to have parishioners who are kind, supportive and understanding and they are not my pastor. So I made a commitment to my men’s group to find a spiritual director. Twenty years ago I had a priest friend who was my spiritual director for a number of years. He had since retired from his retreat center, moved a couple of times and was now living just a few miles from my office. In fact, he attends his own men’s group on Thursday evening in the same building as mine. One Thursday evening a couple of weeks later as I walked to my car, I went over to him and asked him if he was available for me.

Once a month, I sit with my pastor/spiritual director. Yesterday, after rehearsing with him my recent activities and hopes for the near future, he quietly said, “Inside of you is a boy who needs a recess.” Not what I expected to hear but the words I needed to hear. I work part-time, so it is not about hours worked. It is about taking time to play, time to just let go of my internal expectations and just be me. Not as easy a task as it might seem, at least for me. This is not something to add to my to-do list but a break from my to-do list. Now to live into this kind and gracious suggestion.

Thanks for reading,

Richard

Both And

One of my favorite theologians, authors and daily meditation writers is Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM. I’ll write more about him later and I want to share one of his major thoughts from his book, Naked Now. He makes a case for non-dualistic thinking. Instead of looking at choices and situations as either/or, he suggests we consider a both/and approach. When I move beyond simple right or wrong to what are the many options available, I move to  a more accepting frame of mind. Most of life is not simple black and white considerations but really many shades of gray.

Instead of forcing a decision, it is helpful to me to sit back and consider all my options. It is about giving time and space for creativity and the possibility for something new. When I am willing to hold the tension of two opposing views without jumping to conclusion, I find that I can understand and listen to others better. While life may seem easier with either/or thinking, I believe it is more meaningful with a both/and frame of mind.

Thanks for reading,

Richard

Working Out

Today was my first visit to the gym in 2017. I joined the Jewish Community Center fitness center shortly after signing up for Medicare. My supplemental insurance program provided free membership at a  local gym as one of the benefits. I had a personal trainer for a few months after joining and developed a work out routine that worked for me. So much so, that when I ran into that trainer a year after, he noticed I had lost weight!

Unfortunately, my work out schedule has become a bit more spotty and the scales show the difference. Of course, eating out more hasn’t helped! Now that I am the heaviest I’ve been in my life, it is time to get serious again about proper diet and working out. Being skinny most of my life has made gaining weight an interesting experience. But now that I’ve experienced it, I’m ready to move toward the appropriate weight range. I’m grateful that I have the physical ability to work out and manage my weight. Now to make the gym visit a regular part of my weekly schedule. I can do this!

Thanks for reading,

Richard

Cooking

I enjoy cooking. I started young, baking chocolate chip cookies when I was about 12 or so. I don’t bake much any more but I do love cooking for family and friends. Every year I am asked to make corn bread dressing for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I don’t use the same recipe each time but I keep learning ways to improve. For me, recipes are more suggestions than rules. Give me a good recipe and I’ll work to improve it.

I’m pleased that all three of my children enjoy cooking. In many ways, my sons take cooking way more serious than I do. It was a joy over Christmas to watch them fuss over the details of a delicious meal. A simple suggestion for a meal for four turned into an elaborate meal for the whole clan. It is satisfying to see my love of cooking live on through my three adult children.

Thanks for reading,

Richard