A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about anticipating my upcoming sabbatical. If you haven’t read that, I invite you go back to it and do so. Today, it’s officially one week and three days away! (But, who’s counting…)
As I said at the end of that reflection on the seasonal and theological purpose of Sabbath-ing, no college or university awards a sabbatical for a faculty person to just do whatever she wants, so here’s some of what I’m planning to work on:
1 – I am writing a book. I’ve been working on it for five years because it is something wholly new for my writing life … a novel. What better way to explore the ridiculous possibility that there exists proof that God willed the equality of men and women all along, but patriarchal religions have screwed it up at every turn? The work is bringing me into a whole new world of creative work that I’m taking the time to learn as best I can. I’ll say more about it soon. Since sabbatical as Sabbath is time set apart from the ordinary, then what better way to write the Sabbath than do it in a way apart from the ordinary academic prose on which I typically spend my time?
2 – I’m expanding my opinion writing and plan to participate in a seminar with The Op Ed Project at some point during the year. This initiative seeks “to increase the range of voices and quality of ideas we hear in the world. A starting goal is to increase the number of women thought leaders in key commentary forums to a tipping point.” I’ve been blogging and writing local op-eds for several years now, and am excited to see if I can expand this part of my work. Again, I will be writing the Sabbath by using a different set of skills and strategies.
3 – I’m revising and enhancing several of the courses I regularly teach to integrate more interfaith cooperation and civic engagement work. As part of this, I’m working on writing up a teaching module on interfaith cooperation that might be of use to various parts of our campus community – from first year students to the board of trustees. The small efforts I have already put into incorporating interfaith elements and civic engagement work into classes have been rather successful with students, enough to tell me I need to do more. It now builds on work I’ve been doing in recent years as a scholar and as a teacher. Last summer I participated in a month-long workshop on civic engagement on my campus, and this summer I will be part of a week-long seminar in Chicago in August on Teaching Interfaith Understanding.Other professional commitments will take me to Chicago for meetings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Theological Roundtable, Atlanta for the American Academy of Religion annual meeting, Nashville for the national conference of the Lilly Fellows Program, among other things.
Not on the official list of writing projects but equally important are things like visits to family for a graduation and a wedding, vacation in the mountains, dinners at the local winery, lunches with friends, reading as many books as possible, and a celebration of our twentieth wedding anniversary this summer.
Sabbath is a rite of passage, and so is sabbatical. Rest is sacred and an alternate way to spend time and do work can be life-giving. Writing the Sabbath is my next rite of passage. What’s yours? Whether it happens once a week, once a year, once every seven years, or once in a lifetime, sabbath-ing matters.
Finally, here’s an offer and invitation: Bring me to your campus or community or group sometime in the next year to talk about feminism and Christianity, vocation and higher education, Christian privilege, religious homophobia, trans* issues and theologies, blogging and writing about religion in public, faith and reproductive justice, or any combination of these and related issues. I’ve got more time than money in the coming year, plenty of energy, and ideas abounding so I’d love to talk about how this work might be of use for you. Click through on any of those topics to read a little bit about what I’ve already done, and email me directly with any queries and questions.