When John Sanford was a boy, he spent a month every summer in a rustic farmhouse in New Hampshire. The house was already 150 years old when his family bought it, with no appreciable modernization, and since Sanford’s dad was the minister of a modest-sized parish and always short of money, improvements did not materialize for years. For a long time they lived in the house quite simply, without plumbing or electricity, so their water supply was an old well that stood just outside the front door. Sanford remembers the water from that well as “unusually cold and pure and a joy to drink” and never running dry. Even in the most severe summer droughts, when other families were forced to draw from the lake to drink, their old well faithfully yielded up its cool, clear water.
At a certain point the family’s fortunes improved enough to make some changes in the old house. Electricity replaced kerosene lamps, a new stove was carted into the kitchen, and modern plumbing with running water was installed. This final change required a new water source, so a deep artesian well was drilled a few hundred feet from the house. No longer needed, the old one near the front door was sealed over and kept in reserve, in case there was ever a run on water that would outstrip the capacity of the artesian well.
Things stood this way for several years until one day, moved by curiosity and old loyalties, Sanford determined to uncover the old well and inspect its condition. As he removed the cover, he expected to see the same dark, cool depths he had known as a boy, but the well was bone dry. Why? As it turns out, a well of this kind is fed by hundreds of tiny rivulets along which seeps a constant supply of water, but their continued flow depends on regular use. Their dependable old friend which had run without failing for so many years was dry, not because there was nothing to nourish its springs, but because those sources of water had not been tapped for a while.
That phenomenon happens with people, as well.
Sabbaticals are an integral part of balanced ministry, according to Bishop Eugene Sutton. Taking three months every six years to step away from parish work, to reflect and restore and renew, is a custom that full-time employees responsible for program, ordained associates, and rectors should routinely practice. With this in mind, Caroline will take a sabbatical from May 22 – August 14. Caroline began her path toward ordination 17 years ago, and she has worked without a significant break for the last 12. Much of that time she has devoted to the people of Redeemer, so it is fitting that we support this time away for her now. Because the time that Caroline will take falls mainly in the quieter part of the program year, Cristina and I will be able to embrace the pastoral and program needs of the parish while Caroline is “observing Sabbath.”
Bless you Caroline, as you take a much deserved drink of cool water.