Friday, June 6, 2014

A Street in a Strange World

So--I have now been on sabbatical for one whole week.  I decided to give myself permission not to start blogging right away, but right away has now passed so it is probably time to break the cone of silence and share a bit of what I've been doing since wheels up at LAX last Thursday.

"Wait, what?"  I hear some of you who don't see me in real life that often asking.  You're where?

I'm on sabbatical.  For two months.  In Mexico.

I've been Pastor at Claremont Presbyterian Church for eight years.  I had been thinking vaguely about sabbatical since year seven.  I've known many Pastors who have gone on sabbatical, including one Head-of-Staff at a church where I was an Associate, but I had never been in one place long enough to consider one for myself.  There are big sabbatical grants that some people I know have gotten--but one of those got phased out by the grant giving organization and one of them doesn't work for folks in California, so I knew I would need to think of something else.

Then, one day, I noticed a tiny ad in The Christian Century.  It was from the Community Church of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico inviting retired pastors or pastors planning a sabbatical to apply to come be their "Minister in Residence" for two months.They provide travel costs to MX and a nice condo to live in.  You preach weekly and act as pastoral support to their lay led ministires.  I quickly sent an email to the address provided.  After a few emails back and forth and some phone conversations, they invited me to come for June and July.


Some of my pastor friends have wrinkled their noses and shook their heads and asked me, "How can it be sabbatical if you're still doing pastor stuff--even if its only part time?"

To which I can only respond, "Are you kidding me?  Two months.  In Mexico.  In a city declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and Best City in the World for 2013 by Conde Nast Traveler.  Are you seriously kidding me? Who wouldn't jump at the chance to do this?"

Not everyone, I guess.

It's possible that it's partly genetic.  My grandmother liked to travel, my grandfather not so much.  Whenever the travel bug hit and she began plotting a potential excursion, my grandfather would grumble, "Erma-you were born with wheels in your butt!"  To which she is at least once reported to have responded, "Well, Clayton, you were born with lead in yours!"

So I will tell you why this is sabbatical.  It's sabbatical because, after a couple of hours of writing and reading this morning, I got to walk the mile from my place into the center of town.  I got to sit in the main square and people watch for a while before taking a table at one of the outdoor cafes that line the plaza.  I got to order jugo de naranja and cafe; then I got to survey the list of various egg dishes on offer.  Huevos --and then a number of options, none of which were rancheros.  The names of the dishes all seemed to be either people's names or place names: nothing which would give a clue as to the actual ingredients.  I trust myself to say "Que hay en eso?" but not to understand the waiter's reply in rapid Spanish, so I just pointed to one.  When it arrived it was softly scrambled eggs, pinto beans and chiles in a delicious, spicy broth.  Nothing I would have thought to order, but wonderful.

That is why it is sabbatical.

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