A Mountaintop Type ExperienceJune 29th, 2010
For those who are following Harry & Henny's ten week "TRIP OF A LIFE- TIME!" know that they are travelling from Eastern Canada to Southern California, up the west-coast to Seattle,Washington, back East to Michigan for a family-reunion with their four sons and daughters-in-law and their nine precious grandchildren!! They are planning to camp all the way, do lots of biking and hiking and dedicate the trip to God who has showered them with so many blessings over 37 years of marriage!
Following along with their journey to date, it brought to mind my trip of a lifetime a couple of years ago when I was able to take a 12 week sabbatical. I was priviledged to spend four weeks walking and hiking in the Green Glens of Antrim, in Northern Ireland. It was a place very close to where I grew up but had never explored. It was magnificiently beautiful ... awesome ... which is a much over used and misused word these days, however the scenery was simply awe inspiring.
I was also priviledged to spend 4 weeks travelling to the Grand Canyon and also hiking in the Mammoth Lakes of California. These places were very different from anything I knew back in Ireland or even here in Canada which has its own spectecular scenery. It was dry, hot and dusty and at times, and when at altitude, made one very aware of how much we take the air we breathe for granted.
Four weeks were also spend travelling around the picture province here. This is indeed a beautiful place. The seasons are so distinct, and that's part of the attraction, but I will never tire of the majestic Saint John River.
Harry and Henny's Blog also reminded me of something that helped in preparation for my sabbatical. It was a book by Marva J. Dawn entittled "Keeping the Sabbath Wholly". The advice Dawn offered in her book was helpful in aiding a transition from busyness to shabbat - a ceasing from all work. It was a challenge to lay aside all the anxieties and worries of work related things and instead intentionally seek quietness and solitude. Silence can be quite disturbing I discovered ... especially when the pace of life slows down. We are often so busy filling our lives with meaninglessness that the humdrum takes over our reality.
Marva Dawn also encourages the reader to seek rest in all of its forms. However the first quest is to seek spiritual rest as it is impossible to rest physically if our spirits are ill at ease. Dawn suggests resting emotionally, intellectually, and even encourages social rest as well as the spiritual and physical. She notes that there is a great deal of social unrest in the world, among communities, within families, and even within ourselves as we seek all kinds of destructive ways to find happiness. To find social rest is to discover 'shalom' in its fullest sense. It is elusive.
Dawn also encourages the reader as part of 'shabbat' to embrace the world. For me that was the time spent with family and friends back where my roots are. It was a time to catch my breath and in the midst of such beautiful scenery, with only the singing of birds as company to embrace fully, after 14 years, and all of the experiences, both pastoral and personal, that the call of God has placed on my life. It was an opportunity to embrace every step of that journey. To kind of take inventory and embrace all of the great moments in ministry.
Perhaps the greatest advice gleaned from Marva Dawn, to is simply 'feast' upon all the experiences that 'shabbat' affords us. I was able to feast on the beauty and the differences of places far apart, yet each inspiring awe in its own way. There was lots of 'feasting' with my family, sort of getting requainted with my seven siblings, as we listened to stories, remembered our parents who struggled to rasie us with much less that we have today. We ate good food, and just enjoyed each other's presence. This was truly the blessing and a blessing to have Marva Dawn's words to remind me what it was I ought to be doing. Ceasing, Resting, Embracing and Feasting. It was a wonderful 'shabbat'.
As Harry and Henny continue their journey of a life time, they too are ceasing from all work, resting both spiritually and physically, embracing their four sons and their wives,and escpecially the precious grandchildren, and where they were able to be present at Allyson's baptism. May their journey continue to be something that is a continual feast full of memories as they celebrate the fruits of 37 years of married life together.
Blessings in abundance!
the running rev
ps the pictures are from http://wherearehennyandharry.blogspot.com/