Thursday, August 26, 2010

Study Leave reDefined

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6)

The essential and official idea of a "personal study retreat" is to hole up in some remote location to read, pray, write, meditate, outline future projects and generally be all hermit-ish to the extent that - in due time - some quality product roles off the line.

And then there is reality.

Reality, it turns out, is much better. Reality involves spiritual reconstruction as the primary achievement. Study naturally works better when the spirit is relaxed and engaged. Consequently, the first two days in Appalachia were meditative, with only brief forays into academia. The waterfall and the trail accomplished their work, first. It's no surprise then that by lunchtime today, Rebekah had already consumed almost an entire book

There are two reasons for this week's portion of Rebekah's study leave. One: to achieve some of the above. Two: to prepare her heart and spirit for the preacher conference she's attending next week. Most conference participants waste the first few days "decompressing" from work. Rebekah will be ready.

I'm especially grateful that we can take these two weeks together. I'm missing a couple of deadlines for newspaper work, and it will cost me a few hundred dollars, but that's a small price to pay for the opportunity to share in this aspect of ministry with Rebekah.

And this is a vital part of ministry. The shepherd needs to be nourished (fed, watered, built up, encouraged, taken care of...). And the only way foundational reconstruction has any chance of working - with any sticking power - is to get out of town.

This location is ideal. I don't know if you're reading any of this, Bill and Julie, but your "little cabin in the woods" may be as good as it gets when it comes to study leave! And having me along is not really a distraction (not one that hurts, anyway!). Rebekah has her own personal chef, listening post, coffee brewer and tea maker - plus a chauffeur if she needs to hit the trail and a valet for any supplies.

But it's not just Rebekah - I'm getting some good work done too. I'm preparing a series of lectures for three speaking dates I have in September, and I'm catching up a backlog of writing for All Pro Dad.

All told, and it's only Thursday of the first week, this study retreat is well on the way to awesome. God is here in the foothills of the Appalachians, profoundly, and we are blessed.

1 comment:

kathy k said...

Looks and sounds like paradise - enjoy your time off.