My Calendar (Does Not) Tell Me Who I Am

My Calendar (Does Not) Tell Me Who I Am

Last week, Sabbatical Committee member Jill Christianson wrote the third in a series of blogposts regarding Rev. Paige’s upcoming sabbatical happening April 1, 2023 through August 31, 2023.

This week, Rev. Paige Getty offers a fourth blogpost, below.

[from Paige’s reflection in the January 29 worship service…]

Long-term ministries are not always healthy—they can become entrenched, habitual, dull. But they can be very healthy, as long as all parties to that ministry are invested in growth, learning, self-reflection, integrity; as long as the relationship evolves with changing needs and changing times.

But the time and space for that kind of growth and learning and self-reflection is limited in the regular routine of organizational life—it happens in bits and pieces during times of study leave, professional development days, even on vacation. But for greater depth, extended space and time away from that routine is critically valuable.

My first UUCC sabbatical was scheduled to begin in spring 2010, and in the fall of 2009 I was preparing myself emotionally and psychologically for the time away from UUCC. In a session with my therapist, as we were processing my inarticulate anxiety in anticipation of the sabbatical, feeling uncertain about what I would do with so much unscheduled time, I blurted, “But my calendar tells me who I am!”

It was one of those things that I didn’t know I believed until I heard myself saying it out loud.

“My calendar tells me who I am.”

When my calendar is full with meetings and commitments, then I must be important, competent, needed, valuable, successful.

Something shifted for me that day, and I began to understand better why I didn’t just “get to” take a sabbatical, but why I needed to take sabbatical.

And the same is true now—it’s been eight years since the last sabbatical (in 2015), even though my letter of agreement calls for a sabbatical every four-to-seven years.

For the health and vitality of this congregation, we need sabbatical. To explore with more depth and spaciousness the questions of who we are. Who I am without you. Who you are without me. What are our individual and shared needs. What needs to change; what should be maintained. These questions are important, whether a ministry is 5 years old or 20 years old; whether it has another 12 months or another 12 years ahead.

Some of the benefit of the upcoming sabbatical is happening already. As we prepare for me to be away for five months, we’re thinking more critically about what are the things I specifically do—sometimes without any conscious thought—for worship, in pastoral caregiving, in relating to staff, in our public witness—things that are the work of the congregation, that arguably should be shared ministries, whether the minister is physically present or not. So we’re revitalizing our Worship Associates team and our pastoral caregiving team, and we’re thinking about what sort of collaborative support the Executive Director and other staff members need.

And I’m  reminding myself (and you) that inertia and habit and entrenched neural pathways are very powerful forces. And it’s in our collective best interest to deliberately interrupt those habits, to reorient, and to begin anew.

I may be more confident now than I was in 2009 that my calendar does not tell me who I am, that I am not defined by my busy schedule. But it’s time again to ask, Who am I, otherwise? What does this next chapter of ministry offer—to me, to you, within UUCC and beyond it?

I am confident that the time away will be refreshing and restorative, and that the reunion in September will be sweet and welcome.


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