This is part two of a four part series on a Restorative Sabbatical. Please read the series – and be encouraged.
Picking up where I left off in part 1, Deborah gave us an assignment.
First, we were to ruthlessly go through our schedule cutting out everything we could and zealously guarding our time.
Second, for one month Russ needed to take regular breaks to rest, reflect, and be restored. He could follow what Deborah Gray calls the 3-4-12 rule and take three, four hour breaks each week, or he could “cancel” one day each week. We opted for canceling a day and seeing if that would be enough.
In her book, Nurturing Adoptions, Deborah Gray writes:
I use the twelve-hour-a-week rule for parents who are tired, burnt out, or worn. I suggest the adult spend twelve hours a week, either in three four-hour chunks, or four three-hour chunks, doing nothing but what is pleasurable for them. (p. 334)
I recall reading that and thinking it sounded nice (but rather cushy) for people who couldn’t quite cut it and had lots of extra time and/or money on their hands. But we were in a desperate place and after three years, things were not looking up. Like so many things, we view them differently when we find ourselves in a position of need, and Deborah was quite firm in her instruction that we give this a try.
Russ set the date for his first Sabbatical Day. He didn’t feel he could take the time to be gone overnight, so he planned a long day away. Being the list-maker that I am, I kept encouraging him to make a plan for the day, to figure out what was most important to him, etc. Really, I should have just given him space to figure it out, because although his first attempt was a bit of a disaster (as you’ll see), he finally settled on a plan that worked for him.
Russ loves hiking and backpacking, so he was immediately drawn to spending a day in the mountains. He packed his backpack with the needed supplies for a day, and since it was still early spring, plenty of winter gear. What he neglected to mention, until he was nearly out the door, was that he planned to X-country ski and/or snowshoe to his research site where he has a very high tower loaded with meteorological equipment. Russ figured he would enjoy the solitude while still getting some work done.
If you feel like chuckling a little to yourself, feel free, we’ve done it a lot.
He drove to the “end of the road”, donned his heavy pack, strapped on his snowshoes and headed up the mountain. About two miles in he realized that perhaps this was not what Deborah meant when she said he should “rest.” She had advised him not to plan or “figure things out”, but to let his mind rest. We are often so busy, especially when parenting children with special needs, that our minds can’t organize or process our new lives.
In her book, Attaching in Adoption, Deborah Gray writes:
When parents have new and difficult events in their lives, lots of information has to be processed. The old ways by which they defined their lives, safety, and roles will need alteration. Most people need to do some re-tooling of their mental apparatus in order to fit the new circumstances of their lives. They need quiet time in which to do this thinking. (p. 310)
As Russ trekked up the mountain, his mind was filled with the physical effort required and the work that lay ahead. He alternated snowshoeing and skiing as the snow levels varied along the road. After a day spent collecting data and checking equipment, a day when his mind was completely occupied with work, he headed back down the mountain. With a heavy pack on his back, he gained speed as he skied out, until he suddenly hit a patch of dry ground and was flung forward to the ground. Needless to say, it was a painful trip out.
Russ arrived home late that evening. I was eagerly waiting to hear about the amazing, wonderful, restful day he had and the incredible time he had spent with God. Instead, he came in weary, wearing a baseball cap that covered a large scrape across his forehead. He was very quiet and I was a bit worried. The next day Russ told me the story of his first “Sabbatical Day” and his realization that as much as he wanted to combine work and rest, it simply did not work.
We began to talk about what he needed for a successful “Sabbatical Day”and made a plan for the following Wednesday.
[Read part 3 here.]
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