“Each one of us is the custodian of an inner world that we carry around with us.” John
Sabbatical was a season of deepening my capacity to be the custodian of my own inner world,
taking more responsibility for the landscape of my soul. How is it with your soul? We sing a
song with the words, “It is well with my soul”. Is it? When it is not, how to we draw from the
wellspring of life that is infinitely deep with God’s grace?
One of the struggles of this sabbatical was its busy-ness, the fullness of activity. This is not
unlike life as usual. Wasn’t sabbatical supposed to afford time to pause, do less, etc., etc.? It
afforded me time to step fully into several experiences for which I’m deeply grateful: our son’s
dissertation defense and subsequent graduation, a road trip with our daughter. The fullness and
busy-ness was a reckoning to be more consciously engaging in the work of being the custodian
of my own inner world.
It is not enough to do “spiritual work” on the fly and it never was. My own custodial work has
been haphazard at times. This inner work requires intention and attention. Someone recently
gave me this quote from Teresa of Avila. “I cultivate the intention and wait for God.” There was
one way in which this happened that surprised me; it happened on the church hiking trip.
Normally, I walk with people as we hike. It is an opportunity to connect, pass the time, and share
the experience. For a variety of reasons, I was always the last person and lagged behind,
somewhat by choice. In the past, this would be very frustrating. Instead, I embraced it as
contemplative walking, paying attention to the sounds and the sights in which I was held. It felt
“well with my soul”. Even at the end of the hike when I was tired, being alone and cultivating
the intention that I was held in this ancient and vast landscape, there came deep and abiding
peace. In the past, I would have been closer to melt-down point. This was something new; this
was a grace received.
My heart is full of gratitude to you, the congregation, for this time of sabbatical. It was not what I
planned, but it has been rich. I am still harvesting the fruits of this season and expect to for some
time as I continue to cultivate. I hope you will consider in this season of your own life, how you
can be the custodian of your inner life, and say, “It is well with my soul.”