I must admit – there were times during my sabbatical when I did not want to go back to work. I liked the flexibility of each day – I had time to read and write at my own pace, walk and go to yoga when I wanted. Each day was my day and I loved it. However, that whole “I need to pay bills and have insurance” adult-thing kind of keeps me from not working full time. So, last week, I went back to work.
Yesterday when I pulled out a new binder and inserted the dividers, when I labeled all the tabs and organized all the paperwork (yes, I still use paper) – ahhh, I had a moment of pure delight. My organized self couldn’t have been happier. Putting together a binder for a future event is one of my favorite things to do. It always has been.
For my 10th birthday, my dad had the perfect gift idea planned for me. My mom thought he was crazy, but my dad knew what he was doing. As I opened that box my love for all things office supplies was born! My very own scissors, stapler, tape dispenser, three-hole punch and even a stamp with my name on it. I was cheering for all these fun gifts, exclaiming, “Let’s go play office!” My friends sitting around the table were a little confused. Fair enough, we were only 10.
From then on, binders, file folders, post-it notes, and sharpie markers – all of them brought me joy. I love to walk through the office supply stores and just look at all the possibilities. It turns out that I’m an anomaly. Yes, there are lots of organized people in the world; there just aren’t a lot of organized youth ministers. Really, at the heart of it, I’m an event planner that loves God. Combine those two and I make a pretty good youth minister!
I love event planning. I get to use all of my office supplies. I get to connect with vendors. I get to recruit help and empower them to lead. I get to see it all happen from start to finish. The down side to this is it’s really, really hard for me to live in the present because so much of my work is based in the future. I didn’t realize how true this was until my sabbatical. So, daily I remind myself to be present. Daily reminders, daily practice. Thankfully, I get to start over each day.
Although I do miss the leisurely days and my own schedule, I am enjoying the planning again. I’m using my creativity in new ways. I’m putting together new binders. I’m coming up with new plans that actually excite me for the first time in a long time. It turns out work isn’t so bad after all.
I’m not completely back yet. I haven’t seen “my kids.” I’m taking it one step at a time. I do one new thing then take a breath. I do another new thing and take another breath. I’m recognizing my needs and actually following through with them. That’s new. And, I like it.
And, even though I’m not a fan of getting up before the sun, I do it. I do it because I value that quiet time in the morning. I value reading the Bible and praying. I value journaling and writing blogs. I value stretching and practicing some yoga poses. And, even though I don’t like the cold or being away from home in the evenings, I go on walks and I attend yoga classes because that’s what I need. I push myself to take care of myself.
This Advent feels a lot darker than Advents of the past. The Longing is unbearable. The Hope feels very distant. But, I know the Light won’t stay away forever. I know the Light appears when least expected – the way I felt it putting together a binder yesterday, the way I felt when I wrapped presents for family the other night. I’m finding Light in places I thought it didn’t exist – work, mostly. So, I’m just going to keep practice being present, because I have a feeling there’s more Light to discover when I’m present to see it.