Before I left Holy Island on Friday I went to explore the North Shore Beach. I’d wanted to walk on the north of the island in April but it was too wet so before I left I decided to go and explore. Even though it was a busy day on the Island the North Shore Beach was deserted. It was a beautiful beach which was a real contrast to the village centre and St Cuthbert’s beach.
I really enjoyed the peace of the beach and took time to reflect back over my sabbatical. It gave me time to think about what the themes of the sabbatical had been, what I felt I’ve heard from God, where I’d met with God and what I want to take forward from the sabbatical into life and ministry. It was also great to remember all the fun I and we have had.
After I’d journaled and eaten my lunch I walked on the beach. As I walked I noticed what a different perspective on Holy Island I got from the north shore beach. Through this God spoke me to of how the sabbatical has given me a different perspective on a number of things and how as I prepare to return to active ministry I do so with a different perspective on life and faith. I’ve chosen to use the word different rather than new as I realised that what I have discovered on sabbatical is not something new, I haven’t discovered a new God(!) or faith but a greater, refreshed and therefore different understanding of the God I love and follow.
The sand on the beach was really interesting to walk on as it’s covered and uncovered daily by the ever changing tide. In places the sand is dry as the tide doesn’t reach it, on the edges it’s damp as the tide just touches the edge, there are places where the waves have ribbed it, places where you feel as you are sinking because it is so wet, places where the seaweed crunches under your feet.
Much as I would love life to carry on like it has been on sabbatical forever I know that can’t happen! As I walked on the different sand I experienced what each of them felt like underfoot. I realised that as I return to circuit life in a few weeks time with the different perspectives that I have discovered I will return, over the coming, weeks, months and year, to a number of different joys, challenges and experiences. Some of these will be like the soft sand dry and sandy, some will be hard like the sand on the edge, some will be crunchy and frustrating like the seaweed, some will feel like I’m sinking and some like the sand is blowing in my face. Yet I will carry into then ALL with the different perspectives I have discovered on sabbatical and in the power of the Holy Spirit who is always with me.
Reflecting on this excited me. I am excited to return, to continue to serve God as a minister and to walk in the power of his spirit. Most of all I’m excited to see where God will lead me, my precious family and those I worship with and serve as a minister.
Sabbatical has been such a joy, such a blessing, such a lot of fun. My time on Holy Island helped me to see both what I will take back from this time into ‘normal’ life/ministry and that I’m getting ready to make that return. As I come away I’m looking forward to what will come next and seeing how God will use all I have discovered during this special time.
Since Holy Island we’ve been in York celebrating the silver wedding of our friends Andy and Jo, who I met at Wesley College. It has been a fabulous weekend and it was a real privilege to lead worship at their church this morning, although a bit odd to be back in a clerical collar and at the front after 12 weeks!