restoring 2319 Nashville Rd.
meeting writing and publishing deadlines
moving farms (while farming full time)
reuniting with my father after 8 years
caring for my father a few months later as he passed away
meeting grant deadlines to improve food access (a task that is very difficult for me)
As each need grew to a level that required my full attention I was able to peel away the commitments that were good, but not necessary. It was made easier as I knew that soon, very soon I’d be able to pick them back up. What I wasn’t expecting is that during each stepping back I became more contemplative in my prayer life and more focused on what matters most. It was when life went back to normal that I began to feel more out of control, anxious, and frayed.
In retrospect the ebb and flow of my life over the past several years has been that of working hard and frantically towards some sort of change followed by periods of recovery. My recovery came in the form of week long illnesses, burn out, and serious red flags in the relationships closest to me. All the things that were most important to me and the reason for serving my community: healthy foods, deep connection, better habits had become less a part of my everyday life due to my lack of renewal. As I’ve spent more time in contemplation the truth has been revealed. As Philleena Heurtz says,
We all need:
Sabbath for Rest
Retreats for Reflection
Vacations for Recreation
Sabbaticals for Renewal.
I’ve done the first three from time to time, but it’s the last one that has seemed nearly impossible. How does a homeschooling mother of four who is also a full-time farmer and actively involved in her community take time for sabbatical? The answer has become more clear as I’ve realized that those who serve their communities with the most creativity and selfless integrity like Mother Theresa, Richard Rohr, and many others are the ones who do take time for renewal. The new question becomes,
How do I continue serving my community if I do not take time for sabbatical?
After much prayer and conversation with those around me I’ll be taking a sabbatical beginning December 22nd (Winter Solstice) through March 27th (Easter Sunday). Both have very significant meaning in my life. The first, being a sign that the darkness doesn’t win-the light is coming. The second, being a reminder that we are all awaiting resurrection. I’ve experienced what has felt like death & resurrection over and over again the last few years without the time to really process the hurts, suffering, and darkness. I know there is a purpose and I’m ready to find it. There is a connection between the desires of my heart for food, birth & community and the suffering I’ve experienced. It’s a common thread among my life and the life of others. I’m in search of the connection, the meaning in it all.
“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.” Mother Teresa
While I’m still not certain exactly what my sabbatical will look life “in real life” I do know that there are certain commitments that I am making for this period of time. My day will begin earlier in the morning and in contemplative prayer. I’ll be reading Common Prayer, memorizing scripture, and reading a stack of other books written by those who have made rest and renewal part of their every day life. I’ll be preparing nourishing meals for my family with the food we grow here on the farm. I’ll be taking daily time for restorative exercise like yoga and long walks. I’m hoping to become more acquainted with silence and learn how to listen to the quiet voice of God.
I will be writing every day and some of that may be published here in this space. It will be more of a journaling of thought rather than specific topics as I’ve written in the past. If you would like to read more about my experience which will likely include a working through of hurts, fears, struggles, and suffering please check back in here from time to time. If you’d rather just stay connected to what’s happening here on the farm and the food I’m preparing in the farm kitchen visit HERE or follow me on Instagram.
I’m going to be decreasing my commitments in the community for a time. It’s something I’ve been doing for a while, but will be more dedicated to it over the next few months. I will be deactivating my Facebook account, but will still be available by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can always text Nathan 270-799-5563. My hope is that the connection I experience with any of you face to face will be more meaningful and that I will be more present. If you would like to visit the farm please let us know.
I’ll be honest that taking time away from some of the good things happening in my community and removing Facebook from my daily life is going to be difficult. These are the ways that I’ve stayed connected to people and in many ways developed a sense of self. It is the sense of power, the building up of self, and an identity based on what people think of me that I need a sabbatical to work through. This farmwife is going to invest in her renewal and restoration so that she can continue dedicating herself to the same in others.
This is what sabbatical looks like for a farmwife. It’s not traditional by any means, but neither are many things about my life. Thank you to everyone who is supporting me during this time in my life. I’ll be forever thankful.
“All great spirituality teaches about letting go of what you don’t need and who you are not. Then, when you can get little enough and naked enough and poor enough, you’ll find that the little place where you really are is ironically more than enough and is all that you need. At that place, you will have nothing to prove to anybody and nothing to protect.
That place is called freedom. It’s the freedom of the children of God. Such people can connect with everybody. They don’t feel the need to eliminate anybody . . .” Richard Rohr