UPDATE: Since beginning this in 2010 (the end of a 7 Year Season…hence the title) it has become apparent that life continues, and I occasionally wish to write about it. IF you’re interested in the origins of this blog’s title…read on. If not, just click one of the links above.
The end of this thing started with a failed attempt to write a novel. But now the end of this thing will end with a blog.
You see, I work for a church in the Pacific Northwest, and a few months ago I got the idea to take a sabbatical. 2010 marks my 10th anniversary of full-time ministry, I needed to get some academic work completed, my family was contemplating a month long vacation, my oldest child was graduating high school and my 20th wedding anniversary would arrive. All of this sort of balled together into a lump and I pitched the sabbatical idea to my leaders: “A pause to reflect on what’s been and what might be next.” They like-ee… so off I went-ee.
It was only when I began contemplating the structure, the ritual and the potential significance of this event that I became conscious of its REAL beginning: 7 Years ago in 2003.
More on that in a minute.
7 is an important number for students of the Bible. Usually it’s just the number between 6 and 8, but sometimes in Jewish literature/thought it represents completeness, holiness, and sometimes it even directly represents God. It struck me that this sabbatical sort of bookends a 7 year period that began with another big adventure back in 2003. I was 39 then. I’m 46 now, and I feel like a 7 year season is coming to a close.
Mystical? Romantic? Delusional? I don’t really know. But here I am and it feels pretty significant. In the last 7 years, my mother died, my wife and I have weathered the single most violent storm of our marriage, our church has weathered an enormous storm of its own, my father died, God has been wreaking HAVOC in my relationship with him, I traveled to South America and as I said, my oldest daughter has turned 18 and has graduated. These last 7 years are distinct.
I mentioned a novel.
As my sabbatical time approached it’s end, my academic work (which provided structure) was complete. I know myself well enough that having NO structure for two weeks would lead to lots of channel surfing, over-eating, sleeping-in and toxic feelings of guilt…Guaranteed. I needed something to focus on, something that was quasi-work, but allowed for the reflection and contemplation for which a sabbatical is designed.
Well, over the years, I have written a little poetry, a few short stories, some essays, journal entries and of course sermons. A few people have suggested that someday I should “write”. In addition, for some time now, I had been struggling with how to better communicate the things I felt God was calling me to be/do; some new ways of looking at life, faith and self. It occurred to me that story-telling is often the best means of expressing detailed or nuanced ideas. Examples that have inspired me include:
The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, Manalive by GK Chesterton, Animal Farm by George Orwell and The 5 Sacred Crossings by Craig Hazen
I also owe the Jump Seat Pixie for a great deal of inspiration:
Anyway, with the support of my friend and pastor Rick, my wife and other friends, I took a crack at starting a novel in hopes of accomplishing said expression.
There were a few hopeful moments…
…but it’s turned out to be like a hot air balloon with (ironically) not enough hot air: It just kind of skips and drags along the ground, unceremoniously spilling the passengers out, and running into parked cars and knocking over port-a-potties…in other words, it was mess.
I could go on about exactly WHY this novel is a non-starter, but that would distract from the point and conclusion of this already lengthy introduction:
I scrapped the idea of the novel, but NOT the idea of writing as a means of bringing this sabbatical (and the last 7 years) to a close. I’m simply going to combine the things I have already written over the last 7 years with some summary thoughts, contextual side-bars and who knows what else. A blog feels like a less pretentious medium for someone who has never “written” before, and it allows for a pace that corresponds with the reality of my life.
A few other things a reader might want to know:
- My goal is to have this work complete by December 31st 2010: The end of this 7 year…thing.
- Beginning with the first post, I will start from the beginning: 2003 and continue chronologically.
- I will be including comments from the present day. I’ll figure out how to distinguish them from earlier writings later.
- I will unapologetically EDIT my earlier writings before I post them for the purposes of A) making myself appear smarter, wiser, more competent and urbane and b) to create some sense of cohesiveness throughout the whole work.
- While my hope is that anyone could “get something” out of this, I am not so naive as to think that everyone will. I am writing from the very narrow perspective of a middle-aged, American follower of Jesus Christ who regularly finds himself lost on the road to becoming. My more realistic hope then, is that others in a similar state may find some encouragement and a sense of camaraderie.
- I use “bad words”. By that I mean words that are considered impolite if spoken from the pulpit or to the Queen. I don’t apologize for it, but neither do I say those words from the pulpit or to the Queen. (I’m told that I am in fact, polite.) I don’t resent anyone who feels those words should never be used, but my feeling is: I will use any word which in the end edifies (Ephesians 4:29) Please don’t write in to argue about this with me. I won’t.
- I am a mostly post-millennial, 2-and-a-half-point-Calvinist who prefers the NIV. I have opinions on women in ministry, abortion rights, same-sex marriage, the US Constitution, Dr. James Dobson, speaking in tongues and Harry Potter. I would be happy to discuss any of these issues in person, but not through this blog.
- Most names have been changed to make all this seem more important than it really is.
- This story will come to an end on December 31, 2010 at 12:00 am