I can’t believe you have driven all the way from Stourbridge to stuff envelopes!!! ……
The Methodist church gift to all their ordained ministers a 3 month sabbatical in the 10th year of ministry and then every subsequent 7 years to do something different from their usual ministry, which will inform and perhaps re-enthuse them in their ministry.
For those who don’t know, sabbaticals are not a time to skive or do nothing and I have had to submit a prospectus for agreement by the Methodist district I work in. For this sabbatical, I have chosen (as well as spending time with God, friends and family) to do 2 main things… firstly working through, typing up and if appropriate publishing poems and worship resources that my mum wrote and secondly I will spend 4 weeks at Launde Abbey in Leicestershire, living and working within the community. Launde abbey is a special place for me, having been going there at least once a year since 2004 – it is a place, I have learnt to fall in love with God again, a place that I have learnt a lot about myself and a place that restores my soul.
My sabbatical started on the 30th January and for those first 3 weeks (which included a week’s holiday, so only 2 weeks of sabbatical) it was a time to rest and relax. I slept much more than I usually do and with Andrew and paisley had a holiday in West Burton – our cottage overlooked the waterfall there.
(West Burton waterfall)
Although I still have a cough I feel a lot better than I did, helped by a 3 day retreat at Holland House in Worcestershire
(view from the prayer hut at Holland House
For the majority of time I was the only guest and thus allowed me to rest, sleep and enjoy the peace and quiet in the house and gardens. The 3rd week ended with a trip to Birmingham indoor arena for Athletics with friends, where we say Laura Muir and Mo Farah smash British records, and a quiet Sunday with lunch out at a local pub.
And so into week 4 (or 3 depending on whether you count the holiday or not) – On the 20th February, I arrived at Launde for the first 2 week block of volunteering with them, not quite sure what to expect – although I knew that my main role, would be helping out with admin and reception work. Although being here as a volunteer, rather than a guest, feels a bit strange, I am looking forward to the next 2 weeks and what it has in store for me.
The first job though was to help with the bulk mailing they are doing - about 3000 letters need folding, and together with some publicity material, needs “stuffing” in an envelope to post to those on their mailing list advertising events and retreats that are happening in 2017. Day 1, and about 1000 have been posted – still a few more to go!!! Strangely it was quite therapeutic, made easier of course by the beautiful views out of the window at the front of the house as well as the company of the 2 gardeners who had been persuaded to help as well – one of whom said: I can’t believe you have driven all the way from Stourbridge to stuff envelopes!!!
The oxford and Cambridge Hermitage - my home for the next 2 weeks - in the grounds of Launde Abbey
The view from the window whilst "stuffing envelopes"