I started working in September of 1974, three months after graduating from college. My Dad died in December of my senior year. Not wanting to be a burden to my Mom, I decided to skip seminary and go to work. My Dad’s company, J&L Steel, graciously hired me as an inside salesman. (Inside sales is what we call “customer service” today.) The job was located in Chicago. The day after I was hired, I packed up my blue Chevy Vega, drove to Chicago, found an apartment, furnished it with a bed, a sofa and a couple of lamps and started to work a day later. I was paid a whopping $10,000 a year and granted two weeks (10 days) vacation, but only after surviving a probationary six months. Adulthood had been thrust upon me, like it or not!
For years, I would carefully preserve my vacation days. I always took a week off at Christmas and usually a week in the summer. Several jobs later, I was given three weeks vacation. I still took a week at Christmas and during the summer, but the rest of my allotted days I would use to extend a holiday weekend. When my vacation time was upped to 4 weeks, I added a 10-day winter vacation to someplace warm. I hate winter! Since 1974, the longest time I have ever taken off work is three weeks and that was not a vacation. It was when I had an artificial hip installed in the fall of 2013.
Why am I telling you this? Because shortly, I will begin an eight-week sabbatical, graciously granted to me by my church. During those eight weeks, Karin and I will spend time in Ireland, France and Italy as well as a significant amount of time with our family. I cannot begin to describe how weird it feels not to have to go to work for eight weeks. Even more, I have been ordered not even to think about it. I guess my newly graduated wife, Dr. Liiv, and the good Reverend Holt are left with only one thing to do: “Wheels up! Let the adventure begin!”
I love the word “sabbatical.” We are truly taking a “sabbath.” If God only needed a one-day sabbath after creating the universe in one week, I figure a mere mortal, like me, needs all 56 days of my sabbatical to catch my breath and restore my soul. I understand what a blessing it is to have been granted this gift by my flock. Not too many people are fortunate enough to receive such a gift during their working life. Nevertheless, as we prepare to leave, my prayer and wish for all who honor me by reading this blog is that you will find some time to “catch your breath” this summer. Maybe it will be sitting on the shore of Nantucket Sound and watching the sun go down or, even better, taking a week or two to get out of your routine and explore a new little corner of God’s world. And…I hope you will find, at least a moment, to let the Divine One breathe into you a breath of new life. I pray you will find “time to pause” and some much needed rest for your weary souls.
Shortly, I will be off the grid and http://www.pjlive.me will go dark. Later this summer, “PJ” will go “Live” again and we will reconnect. For now, however, I am pressing the off button and shutting down.
John Holt, Cotuit, MA