Navigating Change (Part 1)
I had so many plans in place. The plane tickets were booked. Hotels were arranged. Childcare was set. Co-workers and volunteers were prepared. The countdown had begun.
Our pastoral staff receives the opportunity to take a sabbatical after every seven years of being employed in a ministry role. My turn had finally arrived, and I was really looking forward to it! I knew I wanted to take advantage of the time to explore and experience something unique and challenging. So, Scott and I started dreaming and talking about what that might look like. We had both visited Spain on separate mission trips and were intrigued with the idea of walking the Camino, a several-hundred-mile pilgrimage that spanned across the country of Spain, beginning in France. We had assumed that taking on such a time consuming adventure would have to wait until our kids were a bit older, (the youngest was only a toddler when we began to dream) and we could find more time in our schedules.
As we had more discussions about what my time during sabbatical would look like, we thought, “maybe we could make this whole Camino thing happen.” Our kids were now a bit older and we knew we could ask grandma to come stay with them. Things fell into place quickly; we found a great deal on plane tickets, my mom agreed to come stay at our house, my formal request for my sabbatical dates were approved, we had our backpacking gear, and we began training for all those miles we would be walking (we had decided to do approximately 200 miles, not the full 600).
During that six month period leading up to our departure date we were walking several days a week for several miles at a time, testing our gear (shoes, backpacks, waterproof jackets, hiking pants), planning the Camino itinerary, and brushing up on my limited Spanish skills. We were so excited! We were going to have more than three weeks together to explore the countryside of Spain, visit old cathedrals and see historical sites, and find ourselves at the end of the Camino in Santiago de Compostela, where it is believed rests the remains of St. James. Not only would this be an adventure together, it would be a spiritual journey.
Little did I know how the year of 2020 would cause such an upheaval. At the end of February my parents told me they were considering a move to Nebraska, which was a complete shock to me. (My mom assured me that she would still come stay with the kids when Scott and I left for Spain.) A week later they had made an offer and were in escrow on a house in Nebraska. They left southern California and were moved in by April. I was flooded with emotions, mostly sadness and frustration. This was going to change how often I saw my parents, how often my kids saw their grandparents, and what were we going to do about Christmas?!? Then, by mid-March the restrictions due to coronavirus were spreading across the U.S. We had to drastically change how we were doing “church”, we were told to stay home, ours kids couldn’t go to school, and countries in Europe began to implement lockdowns and travel restrictions. By the first week of April, three weeks before our departure date, we received word that our flight had been canceled…our trip was not going to happen anytime soon.
With the way things were going, like more restrictions on travel and stay-at-home orders, it became apparent to me that this was not the right time to take a sabbatical. Not only could I NOT travel anywhere, with all the changes and needs with church and ministry, it just wasn’t the right time to go. Within a span of two months, my parents moved out of state, I couldn’t travel to Spain, and my sabbatical was canceled. Three huge disappointments. I knew I needed a plan to deal with the grief and navigate the change…
(Part 2 coming next week)
This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. (Hebrews 6:18)