|A.Hanson, Denver Botanic Gardens, 2015|
My soul is crying out for Sabbath. I have been pushing my mind, body, and spirit to the breaking point for about eight solid years now. I have made ten moves, lived in three different states, finished grad school, finished a pastoral internship, finished a residency as a chaplain, came out, and also got married.
As I was reflecting on what is next for me, the one word that is sticking with me is "intentionality." I am tired of living in a place of reaction instead of intention. I want to be in a place where I consciously make my decisions instead of life making my decisions for me.
Part of this sabbatical is to care for my body in gratitude for all that it does for me. At times I feel like I am an extremely astute mind rather unfortunately attached to a body that needs to be feed and receive rest periodically. I push my body to the limit on a regular basis (forcing it to go without sleep, subsisting on coffee and whatever food I can shovel into my mouth to make my stomach stop growling, and not exercising), and I know that I am relatively young, and this cannot go on forever. I have already seen the effects in my thirties and I am not interested in living like this anymore.
I will rest when I need to rest. I will stop going to bed with my phone and having a frenetic looping between social media sites be the last thing I do before I go to sleep. I will eat good food (and perhaps kick the sugar addiction that has been my nemesis for years) and drink more water than coffee. I will get exercise in a way that cares for both my body and my soul. This means not falling prey to the trap of having exercise become another obligation or another obsession. I will not punish my body into a running program or a weightlifting program, unless that is what it wants.
I will work on creating things. I have always been a creative person, and somehow that got lost in the shuffle that is paying bills and going to school and being a grown-up. Somehow creative pursuits are just not as valuable as some other things. Which is a lie that the world tells us. Creating things is about the only antidote to the stress of being human. A life without a spark of art is not much of a life at all. I love music, particularly creating choral music together with others. I threatened to take up trombone again (my instrument until 12th grade), and my wife suggested that while I was welcome to do so, it might hurt the doggies' ears. In the past I have also loved watercolor painting, quilting, knitting, felting, jewelry making, pottery, and screen printing. I am looking forward to making some improvements to our backyard and to doing some maintenance inside the house.
I will work on meditating, before it becomes critical. Meditating can be sitting quietly, walking, writing, prayer, or some sort of devotional. There have been way too many occasions recently where I have had to set a timer for myself and force myself to sit still in order that I might not jump out of my skin. I will settle deeply into my own soul and actually be present with myself. In other words, actually do the things that I counsel other people to do.
I will live with joy and intention as a newlywed. I will live life abundantly as I continue to be a part of a community of friends and people of faith in Minneapolis/St Paul.
Above all, I am making an intentional decision to realize that I am a person with a mind, body, and spirit, and I need to care for all those things at once. Come, eagerly awaited sabbatical. I am ready for you!