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Beginning...Finally Begun

After the fits and starts of extended graces—granting students incompletes—and pilgrimage preparations—both as professor-administrator and as wife—I do believe sabbatical has finally begun. I want to mark the moment and to give it some texture.

Snap-shot #1: Fascinating, as ever, are my internal resistances to this gift of time. My sense of self-worth is so grounded in accomplishment, even as I like to pretend my healthy self-care practices demonstrate being more than doing. Ironically, practices allow you to do being. As the last student finally submitted her final paper, as I could finally move her process to completion, I smiled. No longer preparing, sabbatical has arrived. A flash of fear and grief coursed through me. I do so struggle to stop, to slow down long enough to listen underneath all the words, current storying, my own hurts and defensiveness(es). I got myself into a breathwork circle last night, and felt…tears, wonder, gratitude, grief. Listening to Brene Brown’s Atlas of the Heart is helping. I need to slow down more if I am going to feel where I am, not only think about what I get to do.

Snap-shot #2: A Flow Game question I have been sitting with these last 7-10 days or so is gaining more clarity: “Mice are curious creatures…what are you curious about?” it asked. I’ve let the question work me for this time, unwilling to jump over it into a new round. I’m just beginning to feel how far away this question has been, for such a very long time. It’s been an intensely productive time, but largely without time or energy for becoming curious. Without any sense of purpose, direction, or ultimate usefulness, I’ve begun to see curiosity arising in the following…

  • Initiation, ritual

  • sacred masculinity…(or not, so to relinquish the dualism entirely?)

  • forgiveness

  • the formation of scripture into its canonical expression(s)

  • wilderness…into bewilderment

  • authority

and of course,

  • wisdom that restores—the apocryphal Book of Wisdom (really?)

It feels delightful and a bit foreign to lean into this curiosity, allowing myself to become an utter beginner again about things I’m supposedly trained to be an expert in.

Snap-shot #3: For quite a while now, I’ve grieved the loss of my grad-student self—a young woman who believed that textual research and scholarly contribution could make a difference in the world. I’ve missed her idealism, her tenacity and skill in research, and yes, her curiosity. At the same time, I have had to grieve so much about her choices—her participation in her own silencing, her unreadiness for all that was to come in an awakening to the Feminine, her refusal of the limitation of text(s). Reading scholarly texts today (that she would have loved) brings irritation and disbelief. For example, how is it that Mircea Eliade can be an expert on African society rituals? Really? A white man in his study...? The whole structure of scholarly authority has collapsed within me.

Yet I am a seminary professor…

How am I to begin…whatever it is that wants to become in this gift of time?

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