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Western May


We’re well past the mid-point of Allegheny’s sabbatical and I hope you are enjoying the fruits of this sabbatical season. You have every reason to feel good about your accomplishments. You have created worship for each another. You have supported each another pastorally. You have supported staff and leadership in their flourishing as they in turn support the flourishing of this community. You have kept warm the hearth and spiritual home. Even when the ceiling falls in.

I was talking to a colleague friend who has a few sabbaticals to her credit. She said, “When some asked, ‘So what did you do?’ and my response was, ‘Not much,’ the people who get it—who get what it means to be a minister and what it takes to support and nurture a long-term ministry—got it. And they knew that that was exactly what was needed.”

Husband Tim tells me that actually I’ve done quite a lot: Deepened relationships with my family, not least our two grade-school sons: Given my body more regular attention at the gym: Added depth to my spiritual practice: Kept the household humming. And then there have been the online courses, long-owned books finally read, sabbatical projects attempted, advanced, abandoned, or deferred, and collegial and personal friendships strengthened. I hope it has been a good balance of action and reflection, challenge and renewal.

Facebook flooded with 'red equals sign' pictures for marriage equality

Post Script: I can’t be writing here on the 21st of May, 2014, without mentioning another “sabbatical exception.” In February there was the death of my brother-in-law. Then there was the congregation’s sudden, personal loss of Linda in March. Today there is an undiluted happy reason to make an exception to the sabbatical firewall between me and ministry: Pennsylvania law has finally caught up with God’s law of Love. Marriage Equality has come to the Commonwealth! So I’ve been fielding a flurry of requests to officiate weddings. And even if by the time you read this the gates of marriage equality have already come crashing shut; know and remember that for this moment, euphoric even if it turns out to be ephemeral, we enjoyed the feeling that all really are created equal with equal access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This is a great time to grow a soul. And this community is a great place to do so.