1often capitalized S : a year of rest for the land observed every seventh year in ancient Judea
2: a leave often with pay granted usually every seventh year (as to a college professor) for rest, travel, or research
I've been on "sabbatical" for a month now. At the end of June, I decided it would be mutually beneficial for Rejoice, my family and me if I took the months of July and August off of work. For Rejoice, it helped stretch tight finances further. For my family, it made the month of July wide open for summer time fun. For me, it eliminated dividing my attention between a job that I love and children that I love even more.
I've spent a good portion of this sabbatical month de-cluttering. I started by clearing a section of our basement to make a rec room for the girls. As they are getting older, I think it's good for them to have a space that is their own. Our small home doesn't have a lot of space, so it required some creativity and a total lack of sentimentality to clear room for a futon, TV and reading area. But it was well worth it. They love playing down there and have already added a dart board (never fear, soft tips), magazines, blankets, books, etc. I've also cleared bookcases, shelves and other areas in every room on the first floor of our home.
Clearly, cleaning is not my favorite thing. If it were, I wouldn't need an entire month to get my house in order. But the beautiful thing is that I had this month to do just that. And it's been good for my soul to get rid of so many things. It has made me feel lighter to be able to straighten up each room and know that everything really does have a place (for now).
I'm trying to be realistic. I know myself. I know my family. It is highly unlikely that we will maintain this leve of organization long-term. I'll get tired. We'll all get lazy. And things will begin to pile up again.
But if nothing else, I've learned it's good for me to take the time to rid our home of excess. Until I looked up the definition of sabbatical, I had no idea it was linked to giving the land a rest in Biblical times or that it was related to sabbath rest (perhaps that shouldn't be surprising if I stopped to think about the word...). That is fitting because my sabbatical has been much more than I thought it would, but I've not spent it doing what I would have guess beforehand.
I've written little during this last month. Instead, I've cleaned and read. I like the idea that a sabbatical is for "rest, travel and research." Perhaps what I needed was to nourish my soul with words and clear out the clutter so that when school starts in two weeks, I feel free to write. Free (and compelled) to write a book proposal for that book I started in May. Free (and compelled) to spend some more time getting to know a character created last spring. Free (and compelled) to see where the journey takes me.
That's the beauty of a simple sabbath or a generous sabbatical. The rest gives you strength for what's to come.