Tomorrow I will have been back in work for a week. In fact, on the Friday I had gone to Belmont Abbey for our annual Youth Department retreat. It's only an overnight stay and it's not really a rigorous retreat: it's a healthy combination of reflection and recreation. It was good to start back with that. It put me back in touch with the people with whom I work and was a reminder that I now really had to get back to work.
It hasn't been that easy, mind! Monday morning was spent replying to e mails that had built up over three months, and sorting through paperwork, and by the early afternooon I was, well, bored! So, there was only one thing for it: stop working! I decided I needed to ease myself gently into my duties! No point in overdoing it. But I know that by the end of Sunday, and our first 'e' event since I have come back to work, I will know that my sabbatical is well and truly over.
However, having said that, I think that the experience of my Sabbatical Leave will give me more of a healthy balance in the future. I have decided that many of the things I did and achieved on my sabbatical I will continue to do in some small way. I will read more, write more and make more time to go to the theatre and do other things that I really enjoy. I have recently revisited Ted Hughes' Birthday Letters and was struck by the last lines of the first poem, Fulbright Scholars: 'It was the first peach I had ever tasted/I could hardly believe how delicious/At twenty-five I was dumbfounded afresh/By my ignorance of the simplest things.' Just like my short time at Belmont Abbey, there needs to be a healthy balance of reflection and recreation, work and play, intensity and relaxation, sacrifice and serendipity...and the odd peach!