Last summer, we left the comfort of our home and camped in a 21 foot travel trailer for 21 days. It was supposed to be what we would call “our sabbatical”. A time of refreshment after my husband, Brian’s, retirement and an entrance into more ministry opportunities
We knew we needed a long break in order to be “filled up” once again; emotionally, behaviorally and Spiritually. Not a break from people or places or things, just a break from the usual, daily grind. We were feeling like our schedule had a life of its own and it was beginning to hold us hostage, blinding our eyes to the possibility of a new perspective on things.
We took this time to rest after a 32 year career in law enforcement, to reconnect and pray about what we would choose to say “yes” to during the next season. We decided upon camping because we felt it would meet both our need to rest and our need to wander.
I was listening to a podcast (*) recently and the host spoke of how important it is to have a planned “re-entrance” when you are away for a long period of time. We don’t often think about the component of re-entering when our focus is on preparing for a time away, however, it hit me that it should be one of the most crucial parts of leaving.
She said that we would all be telling a different story if Apollo 11 had not returned home safely from that historic trip to the moon. NASA had planned precisely for their re-entrance to earth. Everything had to work perfectly in order for the Lunar Module to return through the earth’s atmosphere safely. Not only did those astronauts painstakingly plan out the launch, they also spent much time planning out the re-entry with every detail accounted for.
Of course, I listened to this podcast AFTER we had already returned from our three week camping journey so we had, unfortunately, already made quite a rocky landing back at home ourselves.
Together, before our drive across the country, we looked at maps and chose different national parks that piqued our interest. We measured mileage and knew how many times we would need to stop for gas. We scoured the websites of campgrounds to find the ones that had “hook-ups” and were possibly near a lake and, we designed our final destination.
Part of preparation included poking at our finances to determine how long we could go without making a stop to log onto the internet to pay bills online, and of course, check our accounts to see how many antique malls I could stop at (ahem…) or how many fishing stores were available for Brian to drool over the latest equipment for just the perfect cast.
We didn’t plan perfectly, but we were aware that “piss-poor-planning would be nobody else’s problem” as that phrase had been a common mantra from years of front-loading our children before tasks were to be done! We placed all of our time and energy into preparing beforehand and had never actually planned out how we were to return. We never even gave it a second thought. In fact, I can remember when we decided to make our journey home after three weeks on the road, I’m remembering now that our minds were mostly focused upon the cleaning up, the shoring up and getting back in order to sleep in our nice comfy bed again. Never did I ever think that re-entering would be a process.
As I’m reflecting upon that “rocky re-entry”, I’m wondering if in someway we should be planning for our entrance back into society after this pandemic. The “stay-at-home” orders seemed to mess with our rhythm a bit. Suddenly, our calendars had absolutely no meaning attached to them. The normal “three-meals-per day” thing seemed to go by the wayside as we ate without a schedule, whenever the growling tummy made its familiar noise, creating my quarantine-19, which shows up well on the scale these days much to my dismay.
Meetings all began taking shape on “zoom”, which I might add was a distant entity and completely unnecessary for me before this season. Church gatherings done “live” or “pre-recorded” online all left a rather bland taste in my mouth, however, many more people attended church during this time because it tended to be more comfortable to watch in the privacy of your own home for those who found this as a new practice.
Moms became teachers, kids play dates looked more like something from “Brady Bunch” with their friends all stacked up in squares on the computer, hair stylists and servers became unemployed, and those still maintaining their jobs did so now from the comfort of their own home and in the dwelling where kids were melodramatically “starving” for snacks and animals suddenly required unceasing attention.
But, alas, even with the chaos - isolation did set in. Friends became engrossed in home projects, and why not, there was plenty of time to complete things. The older generation and those with immune deficiencies were fearful of shopping, walking or even gathering in small family settings. Grocery stores looked like war zones and seeing a person walk up to a bank with a face mask was a common sight, even though before COVID that would have been an event that would require a call to the cops.
The time has come for us to emerge from our hibernation. Re-entry; emotionally, behaviorally and Spiritually.
We are now leaving our home regularly, driving, shopping, frequenting restaurants, gathering with friends and family, being in community with those from church and just basically breathing again. All of those scenarios are happening in stages and its a good thing, but yes, we should prepare for it.
Emotionally: Have grace for your own process, grieve a little over things that have been lost like weddings, birthday celebrations, job/career growth, funeral gatherings, friendships “unfriended” because of the turmoltuous way social media divides us.
Behaviorally: Dust off your daily schedule and begin writing in times that you can meet people, work well and rest completely. Saying “yes” to the best stuff and remembering how much you actually “did without” during the time of quarantine.
Spiritually: Connect with God. Ask Him the big questions. Struggle with the unknown together. Reveal your fears, hang ups and habits that you’d like to change…you can’t surprise Him. Notice Him in the blessings, thank Him in those moments of peace.
I may have been a tad resistant to being quarantined, but as I look back, I can remember how much I enjoyed just randomly throwing a movie on or taking out the charcuterie items to make lunchtime a more special occasion.
I can remember how, after being just the two of us for a few weeks, we wandered outside for a beer and wine session with neighbors, using sidewalk chalk to mark X’s in the cul-de-sac, six feet apart for a safe stance. I remember how special it was to see our kids and grandkids again and hug those amazing people; those real, in-person faces and how much more I appreciated their smiles, their laughs, their hair flipping around as they told stories, their hospitality, their worth.
I am holding so many different things with “worth” these days. I have been given a window into what is really important. I have had the privilege to go without, and so therefore, am so very thankful for what I have. Appreciation for my home grew more and I have eyed every last corner of it, knowing it is a gift. I do believe I know what to say “yes” to now, and it took being ordered inside to do so.
Our sabbatical, sort of like the time quarantine, needed an intentional thought process to re-enter into normalcy. Make some space to do that for yourselves as well.
Grace and Peace, Linda
(NOTE: This blog post re-written for www.IDoPartTwo.com)
"A collection of authentic marriage stories written by couples just like you."
Find them on social media: FB @idoparttwostories & IG @idoparttwo
Podcast mentioned (*) The Next Right Thing Podcast Episode 89 - by Emily P. Freeman
Life Coach, Marriage Mentor
The Ups and Downs of Life...