It is time for me to leave you for a short while. It is only three months that I will be away on sabbatical, and I know that it will go quickly for us all. And yet, I find myself anticipating missing this place a great deal. I will miss your smiles and your hellos, your passion and your struggles. I will miss the work that we do together. I will miss you.

As I’ve said before, my work portfolio is in good hands, and I am grateful to all of you who are helping out with pieces and parts of it. I look forward to hitting the ground running in August and picking up with the many terrific programs we’ve got going on here. I won’t be getting any email at all while I’m gone, but I will be spending time with my family, doing lots of art, and taking a short course on systems theory for second ministers.

While I will be doing some short trips here and there, the bulk of my sabbatical time will be spent in Asheville. So it is possible that you might see me around and about. Should that happen, I look forward to greeting you warmly, and not talking about church. 

I hope to see you at this Sunday’s service, which will be all about Pete Seeger, with singalong songs and original music from Chris Rosser. If I don’t see you there, then farewell and see you soon. I leave you with this short blessing from John O’Donohue.

May you know that absence is full of tender presence
and that nothing is ever lost or forgotten.
May the absences in your life be full of eternal echo.
May you sense around you the secret Elsewhere which holds
the presences that have left your life.
May you be generous in your embrace of loss.
May the sore of your grief turn into a well of seamless presence.
May your compassion reach out to the ones we never hear
from and may you have the courage to speak out for the
excluded ones.
May you become the gracious and passionate subject of your own life.
May you not disrespect your mystery through brittle words or false belonging.
May you be embraced by God in whom dawn and twilight
are one and may your longing inhabit its deepest dreams
within the shelter of the Great Belonging.