I am officially done with sabbatical now and--I must say--the end was pretty much a blur. My "May Term" started out pretty well. Norm and I had some projects lined up (for him and for me) and we started to slowly work them off. However, it wasn't too long before we got word that my father-in-law, Craig Nelson, had passed away. He had been sick for a long time. Still, you are never really prepared when someone you love dies. The second half of the month was spent in various stages of mourning. We drove down to Maryland to be with my mother-in-law, Margaret. Then, upon our return, we had to deal with our own feelings of loss while plunging back into "normal" life. While I would rather that Craig was still with us, I am glad I was on sabbatical for this. Most importantly, I am glad that I was able to be present for my wife and the rest of our family.
Now--with some sabbatical tasks abandoned or postponed--I am back at work. I preached Sunday and then helped lead a discussion on grace in our congregations at the Council of Christian Churches in the UUA Annual Convocation. It was a enlightening event and has given me much to think about. It turns out I am not the only person who thinks that the presence of grace may the most important aspect of our lives as faith communities. The challenge is, of course, to keep that front and center when there are so many less spiritual concerns that call for our attention.
I am also planning summer services. I officiate and preach about half of them. When I am present at summer worship, I serve as the musician in addition to other duties. Therefore, I am working up a dozen hymns on the uke. This Sunday is "Children's Sunday" and there are two more "regular" services after that. Finally, I am trying to figure out ways that the congregation can provide more "points of (grace-filled) contact" for church members this fall. We will try some sort of "Worship Lab" at a non-Sunday morning time-slot. We may try some other things as well. Perhaps a "Pub Theology" group.
Norm is playing "catch-up" today. While we did manage some field trips to the US Naval Academy, The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, There wasn't much time for more structured learning. Today this has been made somewhat more complicated by the presence of Son #3 who is with us on Tuesdays and Thursdays now that he has graduated from nursery school. Norm is writing a paper on the life of Samuel Prescott. If you don't know who he is, you can ask Sarah Palin about him. I am sure she knows by now...
I realize there are a few blog-posts in what I have been up to, but with family concerns taking priority, they have had to wait. Once things calm down, though, I will have time to reflect on the year. I learned a lot, I think, but I haven't quite figured out what.
Here are links to: The Maritime Museum, The US Naval Academy, and The Met
Oh...and Samuel Prescott