The Revd Maurice Skinner writes about Sabbaticals and the Christian calling
There is no letter from Dilys this month. This is not an oversight but it is because Dilys has served long enough to qualify for a precious sabbatical of three months duration. She and Michael plan to visit historic Christian sites in Turkey, in the footsteps of Saint Paul, and also to visit the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. We all hope they have a memorable and refreshing time.
However, when I was first told that Dilys was on sabbatical, I admit that I experienced a tiny feeling of jealousy: sabbaticals came 'after my time,' and therefore here is something I have permanently missed. What a ridiculous thought!
Because, then I thought, that partly because I was born when I was, I came into that group surprised by the offer of voluntary early retirement from my main line professional career. Then I realised that 'my sabbatical' has been the quite marvellous opportunity to have two post-career, non -career experiences.
The first was as a curriculum development officer at the then Royal Berkshire Education Department and in parallel, to be a voluntary church minister. This used to be called NSM.
Having been blessed with such marvellous opportunities, I quickly came to my senses and concentrated on what I would like to do on a sabbatical, given that I was eligible!
I worked on the thought this way. I just happen to think that a good exercise at any age of life is to consider from time to time what I would like to do if I were starting out again at the age of 18? Such an occasional reflection can, I suggest, bring us into some under standing with those grappling with starting out now!
A development from this is to ask what would I...should. I...do, given the opportunity to have a sabbatical?
Well, the Christian calling is certainly not to be depressed or deactivated by the swirling evils around, but rather to help the work of the Good Samaritan. There arc two groups of people who seem to need special consideration.
Firstly, those living alone and who are vulnerable thorough age or illness .
The second are those living with the long-time disability of a member of their family, someone perhaps with learning difficulties, whose disability appears incurable. The question is 'who will be the carer when the present carers aren't able'. The good news is that there are marvellous people doing good tilings, often highly invisibly .
What I would like to do is to become much more aware of all that is going on, and needing to be done, so that I could be part of the caring church skilfully deployed to aid the Good Samaritan in his many and risky duties.
I wish you all increasing joy in being the Easter People - continuously strengthened and formed by the Holy Spirit.