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Pastor Ryan's Sabbatical: The Gift of Quiet

"O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore."-Psalm 131

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the first two weeks of my sabbatical were crafted to have some time to decompress, rest and be quiet. Kealy and the kids were still in school and in their regular routine, which gave me additional space to be quiet and settle into the unique sabbatical season.

The first week of the sabbatical was like swimming through chocolate cake! (I’ve never tried this, but would love to some day and it sounds glorious). So much had been leading up to this season that it was nice that it had finally arrived and the weather in Oregon in June is always pretty good. The first week I was able to go to some of my favorite places around Corvallis and sit and be quiet. I was able to reflect and rejoice in the incredible gift that our church leadership had given me and rejoice in the letting go of ministry and church stuff into the hands of a God who is sovereign.

I wrote that first week in my sabbatical journal:

“Another beautiful day of Sabbatical! I still can’t believe it is here. The joy of it wraps and relaxes me…I am in awe of the beauty of this place and feel so relaxed and a peace.”

The second week of my sabbatical I planned a solo fishing and camping trip up into the mountains. I’ve never been camping by myself before. I’ve loved living in Corvallis, learning to fly fish over the past 8 years and was really excited about being able to spend more time in some of my favorite fishing spots and being outdoors. As an extrovert, the idea of spending 4 days by myself was a little strange, but I knew it would be an important part of the sabbatical and time to be quiet and be alone with Jesus.

While the weather wasn’t great that week up in the mountains, the trip did not disappoint. Of course the fishing was great, (I caught 100 fish but who is counting?) and having 4 days to joyfully cast my flyrod into the stream over and over again always brings me great joy. But the real gift came in the quiet peace that God ushered in during this time alone.

It was strange the first day or two how many thoughts, worries and even songs were bouncing around in my head. And the great thing about fishing in a river by yourself is that you can talk out loud and no one can hear you, so that’s what I did.

But after a day or two of ‘downloading’ everything that was bouncing around in my head, there was a pervasive peace, a quiet that settled in like a calmly flowing stream. It was life giving water to me in our noisy world and a wonderful way to begin the summer of sabbatical. Looking back on that solo trip I think it was a critical week that positioned me to be able to hear from God and drink in deeply all the wonderful gifts that were heading our way.

I wrote in my journal during the camping trip:

“the glory of God’s creation from the mountains and the rivers around me to the warmth of the sun and fire. The Bald Eagle overhead and persistent ants below. The wonder of God’s love and faithfulness for His people, His grace and mercy in my life, the blessings of our church and our family. All of these and more, Lord, are because of you. Speak to me today in the quiet, show me the wonders of your glory. Give me eyes to see your goodness and your love. Guide me in your way, the everlasting way.”

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