May 11th, 2010

This post marks the beginning of my Sabbatical-Proper, and the last chapter of this blog. I journaled almost daily as I studied for my ordination, and as I read through (3) books I was given by three significant people. The journal is broken into (3) sections: BIG PICTURE; my summary thoughts about the overall sabbatical, CLASS WORK; self-explanatory, and READ/RITE/REFLECT; my thoughts on the three books i was reading.

The books were:

From Brenda: “Married to Distraction” by Edward and Sue Hallowell

From Rick: “Mission Based Entrepenuer” by Eric Bhame

From Alick: “Reflections on the Christ Mind” by Paul Ferrini

BIG PICTURE: I feel the urge to rush into some kind of over-arching theme for this sabbatical already. Having a solid focus for the hike contributes to that urge. I do feel like patient endurance will be a PART of this sabbatical, but I’m reluctant to force it into the role of THEME yet. Maybe it’s just a mechanism to help me into the larger theme. I will be patient and grateful that I have so much support, from my family who are being so adaptable and encouraging, from AC3, from Brian who offered his motorcycle, to Larry who has provided a beautiful home on Puget Sound.

CLASS WORK: O.T. Theology was not as painful as last time I picked it up. Covered some of God’s names and the idea that the Tetragrammaton is likely poorly translated as “I Am” and it should be more like “I Am present to you NOW”. The thought that God is concerned with revealing his desire to be near us even at that early stage of the redemptive plan is heartening. It makes me think of Brenda and what it meant to her to find out her father had kept memorabilia and home movies of her as a girl. Knowing you’re wanted means a lot in this universe.

READ/RITE/REFLECT; MARRIED TO DISTRACTION: I think I will start by taking each book in turn, one each day. I picked up the marriage book first because I want Brenda to be a priority during this phase of the sabbatical. It felt like I would be displacing whatever God had for me if I tried to read one of the other books in the same sitting. I highlighted two sentences out of the Introduction and first chapter:

“Being able to play and to celebrate – being able to have fun together – are far more important than most people believe. They are a cornerstone of all great relationships.”

Reading that made me sad. All the talk of distraction and busyness, while not Inaccurate, didn’t catch me the way that sentence did. It’s kind of true of us. It’s not that we don’t ever have fun or laugh, or celebrate…but it seems to only occur when the girls are part of it (which is GOOD!) but it seems to drain away when they are not around. Kellie said something the other day about how she can tell when one of us is on the phone with the other because we get this exhausted tone to our voices. That made me very sad. Brenda said something to the effect (almost hopefully or apologetically) that it might be relief or comfort to hear the other; we can “let down”. If I really thought that were true, I would agree that it’s hopeful – but I just don’t think that’s it. I think we’re just tired. Which leads to the second sentence I highlighted:

“You may also wonder if you simply want too much form your marriage…maybe the best I can hope for is to avoid disasters and make do with what I’ve got.”

This a slightly more depressed paraphrase of something Brenda said a couple of months ago: “Isn’t it enough that we still wake up next to each other after 20 years; that we’re still together?” I don’t know what to think about all this. There’s a part of me that could only recently get comfortable with the no expectation and no hope marriage. I hate to say it, but I guess I can see never having sex again if it meant never having to fight about it, make Brenda feel uncomfortable, or take risks. I could join her in that place of “this is good enough”.

This living without expectations thing is still pretty new, and I like it. But I can’t honestly say that I believe it’s what God wants either. I know He wants me to hope…and hope requires some kind of action; but what?

I have to believe that Brenda chose this book for a reason. She must at least be asking the same questions about the margin between hope and apathy, between co-dependence and independence, between surrender and war. For Day 1 at least, I’m going to hope in that: we’re both asking the same question form our different perspectives…

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