Have you ever needed the space to listen to God without distraction? When you’re in deep prayer/meditation, does the alarm bell stop you just before you get to the meat of the message? It’s no different for a priest. A rector’s job goes far beyond spiritual direction, including counseling, day-to-day minutia of operations, marketing plans, coordinating with the diocese, etc. Just as any of us would need a break to recharge and reconnect with the Spirit, the same is true of Fr. Chris at this time. The recommendation is for a priest to take a sabbatical every five to seven years. In Fr. Chris’s 27 years of priesthood, he’s never taken one. It’s time.
Fr. Chris has left Grace for vacation with his family, followed by a sabbatical alone in nature that will extend through October. Our vestry has encouraged Fr. Chris to get the much-needed recharge and reconnection that he needs, and he will largely be living in the style of a monk — totally isolated from people (except perhaps at the grocery store), alone with God — until Julie joins him in the final weeks. Our vestry recognizes that we need to be able to nurture our nurturers. They will return to us on November 1.
In his absence, Rev. Donna will increase her hours and Grace will bring in supply priests to cover the times when she also needs a break. What a blessing to know that Fr. Chris feels that our parish is on the right track, spiritually, that he’s able to leave us (in very capable hands) for a time and will return with the beginning of the next chapter of our life at Grace.