I am coming to the end of my Sabbatical leave. Three months off from my duties as Youth Chaplain are, in many ways, beginning to look like they never happened! There was, in the beginning, both the daunting and pleasant prospect of having three free months to do what I had planned to do. They have passed quickly. I have not, by any means, achieved everything I wanted but then there will always be loose ends and I guess I will never be satisfied!
The idea was that, for three months, I would just write. I had a few ideas up my sleeve and a few things that I had started in my spare time that I wanted to complete and I'm almost there...but not quite. I could do with another three months! It's difficult to know when things are complete. Or perhaps I mean perfect. If that is the case then I will never reach my goal! So, it's not perfection I'm after - just satisfaction! I think things will only be complete after I have become bored by them and had some reason for letting them go and not attending to detail. I'm not entirely certain what I have to show at the end of this three months. I think I will only discover that when I can look back on it. The gift of retrospect is something that we have to wait for. Looking back is good. Meanwhile I am caught up with moving from one piece of work to the next, chasing perfection and never getting there, trying to make the most of less than two weeks left, as though the others never happened!
Meanwhile, I'm beginning to prepare myself for my return to work and looking at ways in which the return can be a new beginning. In truth, I have not really given an awful lot of thought to the next stage of things: that would have defeated the whole motive behind taking a Sabbatical in the first place. I have kept as strictly as possible to the reason I requested the leave. In fact, in the first few weeks there was a rather interesting and tempting job prospect that raised its head and, after a week of serious consideration, I dropped the idea because I didn't want it to distract from the sabbatical! There have been moments when I think that perhaps I was wrong not to have chased that opportunity but in other moments I think I was most definitely right. But who knows! After all, it's retrospect that allows you to see things a bit more clearly and by then it is too late! But that's how we make decisions - in the moment, trying to discover what the future may hold, weighing up possibilities and trying to see things clearly - before they've even happened! It's important to remember that God is 'of the moment' and 'in the moment'. I think it was Karl Rahner (although I may very well be wrong!)who spoke of the Sacrament of the Present Moment but whoever first came up with that phrase has presented a little gem. We worry so much about the past, we often fear or anticipate the future but it's where we are now and what God is giving now and how he is revealing himself now that is often overlooked and undervalued. So, as I chase from one piece of work to the other, as I try to look back at what I may have achieved or not achieved, as I anticipate the future and think about how I can move on I think I shall just continue to enjoy the moment! Now that's satisfaction!