Holding Space and Sabbatical

A candle holder formed by six figures with their arms around each other, surrounding a flame in the center.

Experiences in other worship settings and even secular locations prompt me to wonder how communities create and hold sacred space, and transitional spaces. This is the organizing principle of sabbatical time, gifted to me by you the congregation. The time of my sabbatical leave is April 27 to July 27.

I invite you to join me in this exploration. I invite you to visit places where you experience sacred presence and ask of yourself and that place, what are the tangible and intangible things that hold space for you in ways that make it welcoming and open to the sacred? Consider visiting a new place and discover welcome and sacred presence where you have not yet experienced it.

Remember that we bring something to every experience. The lens through which we view and experience a place can cause us to be less or more open to what that place might offer. Still, there are times even when we are resistant that somehow the space gets through our tough exterior and its grace connects with our spirit.

Here are some things to consider in reflecting on your experience. Use them only if they assist your deeper understanding.

  • What is the affective quality of my experience? Am I calm, curious, agitated, comforted, etc.? What affective qualities, feelings might describe my experience?
  • What is the nature of the physical space?
  • How do I experience the people present, if people are present in this space?
  • Do there seem to be intentional patterns, behaviors, words that shape my understanding of this space and experience?
  • What do I bring to this experience and space as I enter it? Am I expectant, reluctant, curious, bored?

When I return from sabbatical, I would like to gather with those of you who decided to engage in this practice so we might share our experiences and learn from one another. This could inform future collaboration and creative endeavors in ministry.

You all remain in my prayer life while I am physically apart from you. There is deep gratitude in my being for the gift of a congregation with the grace to grant their pastor a sabbatical. Thank you. I will miss you.

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