Remember that scene from Apollo 13 when they’re trying to explain to the TV audience the danger that the Apollo 13 crew faces on re-entry? In their illustration, the earth is a basketball and the moon is a softball, approximately 14 feet apart. The announcer then holds a piece of plain white paper at an angle between the two balls and explains that the re-entry angle has to be accurate to within 2.5 degrees, which is like aiming for a target the thickness of the paper’s edge.
I feel a little like that—a lot like that—as I leave sabbatical and re-enter pastoring. I want to get things right so that I don’t miss the softball earth altogether and spend the rest of my professional years spinning aimlessly in space until burnout or malfunction or even worse, a collision happens.
During my sabbatical there were many times when I literally did not know what day of the month or even day of the week it was. I think my total computer time was around 8 hours for the entire 3 months. I found myself living in kairos rather than in chronos. Both kairos and chronos are Greek words for time, but chronos means sequential time, the human construct of seconds and minutes, or how we order our work and appointments. Kairos means the right, appropriate, or appointed time. Kairos is God’s time—everything in its season.
Ironically, I have little hope of preserving my gift of free-flowing kairos living without creating some structures to protect it. I’ll need to intentionally create the spaces in which my mind and spirit can escape the accounting of seconds and minutes and due dates and simply enter into the blessings of the moment. I plan to structure these moments as rites, or rituals. They are sacred and set apart and will allow me to leave one time construct and enter the other.
I lived for three months in a blessed space where prayer and creativity and joyful pursuits were the order of the days. I can’t reproduce that exactly and also fulfill my responsibilities, but within and throughout the days I can set aside the time and space for prayer and quilts and baking and music and walking and cycling. Each day can contain a mini-sabbath.
You can do this too. Maybe you already do. If you don’t, and you need encouragement or even permission to carve out sabbath space in your days, here it is: You can do it! You should do it! You will be blessed by your doing it, and so will those whose paths cross yours, and so will the joyful, creative God in whose image you are made.
If you’d like to talk to me about this in person (or talk about something else!) please send me an email and let’s plan a time to talk. I’ve missed many things while I was away, but mostly I missed simply journeying through life with you. And even if you don’t intend to create rituals and sabbath space for yourself, please pray for mine. I’m delighted to be back at work, and also a little daunted by how rusty I am. I could use some divine intervention!
Love and Blessings,
Rev. Karen Thompson