Anybody can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy surely takes the rest of the week.
Alice Walker, poet

Sabbatical or a sabbatical (from Latin sabbaticus, from Greek sabbatikos, from Hebrew shabbat, i.e., Sabbath, literally a “ceasing”) is a rest from work, or a hiatus, often lasting from two months to a year. The concept of sabbatical has a source in shmita, described several places in the Bible (Leviticus 25, for example, where there is a commandment to desist from working the fields in the seventh year).

I jokingly tell people I’m on sabbatical; but I’m only half-way joking. I left the Ledger-Enquirer on Oct. 21. After a few weeks, it began to feel like deep rest, and for that I’m grateful. I doubt there will be another time in my life, until retirement, when I can take this kind of hiatus. When I was first pondering how much time to take, I thought a month would do; then I backed it up. And I’m glad I did, and could. Number one, I live with the world’s Most Supportive Husband. He growls only slightly when he goes out the door to work everyday, but I remind him that he’ll be retired much before I will. (Child bride that I am.)

On my first “official” day off from regular work, I felt confused and disoriented. Then I began to get into a sort of daily rhythm: prayer/journaling; catching up on correspondence, via email and otherwise (and too much Facebook!); exercise; and sometimes a little bit of house cleaning but I’m definitely not overdoing it in that regard. Also I’m doing some freelancing.

At times I feel guilty for this period of self-indulgence, but I’m trying to work through that. Our culture sends strong signals that to have worth, we must be constantly productive, like bees. Even children don’t escape this message. So, I am trying to BE before I go back to a more regular routine.

How about you? If you’ve had a sabbatical, what were some of the joys and struggles you experienced? If you haven’t had one, how would you fill your time?


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