Time Can Be a Gift

Time Can Be a Gift

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

This week, fellow committee member Jill Christianson offers a third blogpost, below.

Time can be a gift.

Several years ago, as I was deep into my international career with the country’s largest union, I negotiated for a five week leave of absence. I’d become burnt out — continually trying to save the day with too few resources and lack of political will from above.

As the time away was approved by my employer and I eased into the leave of absence, that five weeks allowed me to recalibrate my work-life balance. In returning to my desk in Washington, DC and to my international travel assignments, my inner compass changed. I had a new focus on important, long lasting initiatives rather than being set off-kilter by urgencies of the moment. The time away was impactful and healthy.

As we consider the sabbatical ahead within UUCC, I’ve reflected on this breather that I took from the daily grind of routine of work. I know that many of you, too, have stories of your own of personal retreats that have sparked growth.

Back in 2010 (yes, while some UUCC members were not yet coming of age), Rev. Paige planned her first UUCC sabbatical as I happened to be the congregation’s President. I was initially concerned (ok, mildly freaked out) that Rev. Paige would be gone from UUCC for five months. Her sabbatical was earned and, importantly, a part of her employment contract. But would this UU spiritual community stay glued together in the minister’s absence? Once I realized that we had a team set up to take care of the layers of congregational life, I relaxed. The sabbatical time, taken in 2010, proved important for the congregation, to know that we’ve got this while our dynamic spiritual leader stepped away for five months. We had it glued together during Rev. Paige’s sabbatical in 2015 as well.

We are now on the 20-year mark of the relationship with Rev. Paige Getty and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia.

In addition to the Sabbatical Team, that will serve as a resource for the congregation in Rev. Paige’s leave, we have several committees established to hold UUCC and those in it with care during the five months that she is away.

I spoke recently at UUCC about a favorite magnet that lives on our fridge. It is a reminder on love and growth and change. It reads:

Listen to your inner voice…
Trust your intuition, your deep inner wisdom…
For when the time is right,
Your heart will always tell you what you seek to know.

The sabbatical ahead is a time of discernment – reflections and insight. This discernment is not just for Rev. Paige. It is time for us – congregants – for us to take pause to consider:

  • Who are we that belong to UUCC?
  • Why do we come here and connect – be that on Sundays in person or on line, to choir, to climate action, religious education, creativity circle and more?
  • What do we want for our future investment of our spirit, commitment, and resources?

We, the congregation, will benefit from the sabbatical in which we — the members & friends, Rev. Paige, and staff together — enrich our spiritual journeys.

Just as the sabbatical time is stipulated in Rev. Paige’s contract with UUCC, there is also the important clause that if sabbatical is taken, there is a commitment of at least 1 year of service to the congregation beyond the sabbatical. That promises that we can share with each other our new insights and realizations from our five months apart.

The sabbatical begins on April 1 (no fooling). Life will move ahead, with its unpredictable joys and sorrows in congregational life, plus, we’ll reflect more. We’ll have time to:

Listen to our inner voices
Trust our intuition, our deep inner wisdom…
For when the time is right,
Our hearts will always tell us what we seek to know.

As one member of this congregation, and as a part of your Sabbatical Team, I look forward to our journey together.

Stay tuned for next week’s sabbatical blogpost from Rev. Paige!


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