August 3, 2023

A colleague of mine posted this image back in January. I took a screenshot and stuck it in my favorites folder because it truly resonated with me. At the time, I knew I would write around the image. What I didn’t realize was that it would be a series. 

In November, after twenty-five years of officiating weddings, I went on a four month sabbatical. My plan? Write my marriage book. You know the one? I’ve mentioned it on and off in blogs or social media posts. It’s been brewing for some time, after all (twenty-five years give or take). I have a thesis. I have a full working outline. I have the imagery, the title. All I needed, I assumed, was some dedicated time to actually write. 

So, sabbatical. Four months. A good plan. I’d write the book. I’d blog a bunch, too. It would be a dream writing vacation. What could go wrong? 

Well, sabbatical arrived around the same time my muse left the building. When she left, she took my energy to write, my ambition, my drive, and even to some degree (as the months went by, and self-doubt began to creep in), my vision and my dream. And taking her place at my work desk? Winter. Cold, quiet, dark winter.

I began to despair. What was wrong with me? Where was my energy to write? Would it ever come back? Why was I so idle? Who was this person I’d become? I sought out wise counsel – my husband, healers in my life, as well as trusted friends. None of them let me down. They didn’t give me grief about my writer’s block. None of them tried to pep talk me into writing. They didn’t push. They mostly listened. It was Kelly, my good and wise friend, as well as one of the wedding officiants here at Central Ceremonies, who finally asked the critical question: “Sarah, what is the root word in sabbatical? Maybe you just need to rest.”

Oh. Because sabbatical. Sabbath. Rest. 

Winter. Hibernation. 

After twenty five years of marrying folks, thinking about marriage, living marriage, it was time to rest. A skill at which I am not really good, apparently. But life, my mind, my body demanded it. And it has taken some time to “wake.” Far longer than four months of sabbatical, than winter, than this image suggests, than I wanted. The blog has been quiet. The book is still not done. But as the summer has progressed, I realized that I actually had several blogs underway and the book was starting to simmer in my mind once again.

We live in a culture that does not have much use or respect for rest. Even now, I internally argue with myself over four (plus!) “wasted” months. I look around for actual, measurable results from my sabbatical. I am not sure there are any. But maybe that is the lesson. Out of the winter, out of the quiet, an awakening – plain and simple. A new perspective, a reevaluation of needs, choices, even relationships. That’s what I’ll be writing about over the next few blogs.