Return from Sabbatical Leave
by Kathye Hamm
I have spent the last few weeks getting reacquainted with the work we are about in the Sierra Pacific Synod after my 3 month sabbatical leave. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to take this sabbatical and for the many people who supported me, prayed for me and accompanied me in various ways during these months. It was a rewarding and rich time for me.
I spent July on the road – attending a training in Baltimore on Broad Based Organizing through the Industrial Areas Foundation, and an Emotional Intelligence workshop through EQ-HR in Rochester, MN. I was able to spend time with family and friends in MN before and after the EQ-HR workshop, before taking Amtrak from St. Paul to Sacramento. In August I attended a retreat in Auburn, CA and visited friends in Hawaii. When I returned home in September, I spent that month being at home – reading, being with friends, snuggling with babies, and being still. For someone who travels so much for work, I relished the extended time of being in one place.
I’ve been asked by many people what my favorite part, or what my highlights were – and there are many. The first I’d like to lift up is the opportunity and the support I experienced. The chance to step away from the everyday cares, joys, and responsibilities allowed my mind, heart, and soul to rest and rejuvenate. It also allowed the other members of the synod staff to work in new ways an learn things about themselves and the work we do together. Does your congregation or ministry have a sabbatical policy for the pastors and ministry staff members? Please ask – and then learn about it if the answer is yes, and wonder with your leadership about developing one if the answer is no. There are resources on our website, and many folks in and around our synod and communities that could help if you need. Sabbatical can be an opportunity for the pastor or ministry leader to learn and grow, but also for the congregation or ministry to learn and grow as well.
The second highlight is the revealing anew of the richness of the relationships in my life. I experienced it through the friends and family that opened their homes and lives to me; the people I met at the trainings, retreats, and in my travels; the emails, phone calls and texts I received before and during my time away; the many prayers (known and unknown to me) that held me up on my sabbatical; and the amazing ways I have been welcomed back. I have been reminded in strong and powerful ways of the multitude of ways that I am loved and supported and encouraged in my life and work – and that is the best highlight of all.
God’s blessings to you and the work we are about together in this part of God’s great vineyard.
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