I returned from my sabbatical with a sense of entering into fallow time. Six months have now passed and what a gift this uncultivated time has been.
The benefits of leaving land fallow for extended periods include rebalancing soil nutrients, re-establishing soil biota, breaking crop pest and disease cycles, and providing a haven for wildlife.
Fallow time for me, has been a time of tilling, ploughing, preparing the ground. Adjusting the furrows of the land, adding manure to the soil, topping with mulch to conserve the water. Occasionally some self-seeded plants have sprung to life, by largely there is little to “show” for the diligent and focused work. These past 6 months have enabled a re-balancing in my life, the establishing of new life-giving relationships, the laying of some foundations for forth coming ministry, less illness, and a sanctuary for the cultivation of creative and physical pursuits. What has surprised me is that fallow time has not been empty time, or even a time for hibernation and torpor. In fact, my days have been occasionally too full, at which point I know it is time to pull back a bit. Above all, they have been days full of energy and vitality with new possibilities opening, dreams envisioned and vibrant relationships kindled.
Vital to this time has been the nurturing of my body, mind and spirit. Yoga, labyrinth walking, bushcare, daily mandalas and watercolour painting have been explored. I have had the opportunity to attend a variety of short courses, conferences and workshops. I have been welcomed by Pitt St Uniting Church a progressive and inclusive community and am being challenged by the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life. I have been reading Cynthia Bourgeault, Joan Chittister, Illio Delio, Diamuid O’Murchu, and Richard Rohr among others. And occasionally looking after Tilly and watching her grown into a delightful, joyful toddler has been wonderful! There are 7 areas of Spiritual Accompaniment among the Fringes that I have been exploring: 1) 1:1 Listening 2) Listening Circles 3) Reflection Days 4) Retreats 5) Networking 6) End of Life support 7) Formation; and all but one of these is beginning to unfold.
I am looking forward to sharing some of this in coming weeks and would be keen to hear from those who may like to join with me as I explore various ways of offering spiritual accompaniment among the fringes.