Tag Archives: sabbatical

Plucking the Chickens

One of my favourite memories of living in McCord, SK was helping process chickens in July. I was thinking of this alot this past week as I have been intentionally reflecting many experiences I have had in the past five years.  I find that having an experience – concrete, or emotional, in person or as a result of reading a book or watching a movie – is kind of like eating meat.   P1000732

You don’t kill a chicken then swallow it whole; you process it.  You kill and bleed, pluck and clean it, (even the pin feathers) prepare and cook it, then you chew it and swallow – or else you could get very sick or choke on it.  Same thing with experiences; whether light and fun, or on which has taken heart-and soul-energy, unless the experience is “processed”, I can get very sick.  (Some people take, or want to take, their own life because they were unable to process a memory enough, or get rid of the pain from it.)  I don’t want to get sick because I haven’t taken the time, or the energy, to process and chew on these many experiences (even the good ones, which are by far the majority).  On sabbatical, now I have both.


There’s a story about a man who, returning to his ancestral home, found himself processing some of his memories; some good, others not so good, some of how he betrayed family, others of times he had been hurt by them.  One night he found himself wrestling with them. He tossed and turned so much, it was as if he were wrestling with a man. Just before dawn he pinned his adversary to the ground, and demanded that he be given a blessing before he let go.  When the man got up in the morning, even knowing he had been blessed by the Holy One, he found he was tired from the wrestling, and that his hip had been injured in the process; in fact, he limped for the rest of his life.  (You may know the story as “Jacob wrestles an Angel” or “When Jacob became Israel”.)  That’s what happens when we process memories; we wrestle them – even the good ones – until we receive their blessing for us.  We are touched by the Sacredness of Life, and are forever changed by the process.

Writing is one of the ways that I review and pluck and clean an experience; sharing this blog is one way that I chew and swallow them.  So thank you for sharing with me this process (that sometimes feels alot like “Chicken Day”).   I may not need to share the “what”, focusing instead on the goodness, the challenges and learnings, the growth, the sacredness, with which I have been blessed as a result of the wrestling and processing.

And blessed I have been, in abundance, and changed.  I still have more questions than answers from them. So please, leave comments and your answers to questions that remain.  Then you can be my angel, and I will continue to be blessed with learning and growth, and sacredness.


Ruminate, Recalibrate, Renew

compass wendybattino comI know I’m not the only one, but I have times when a day is so “busy” I can hardly remember what I’ve done in it, which end is up; times when I wish I slow down the pace of life so I can take a deep breath and take stock.  Sometimes I wish I had the time and the energy – at the same time – just to chew on an idea that’s been floating in and out of consciousness.  I want to step out of “regular time” with all that “has to be done” and be in a different kind of time,  in which I can just Be.

I do have those moments – when I remember to make time for them, when I am willing to let go of what I have become convinced are “have-to-dos”.  They give me a sense of connection to all that is; touch the infinite.  In these moments everything is whole and balanced, (sometimes it’s called ‘kairos’ time)*.  You probably have them too.  That quiet of the very early morning, sitting at night watching the stars, a child sleeping.  It’s that moment at the end of yoga, the ‘resting’ pose.  In kairos time, I remember, as a colleague once put it, that I am “a  human Being, not a human Doing”.

Lots of images: compasses need to be re-calibrated to True North. Wilderness time to let go of distractions that hold one captive. Leaving a field fallow to give the land a chance to renew.  Making Sabbath – a time to “do no work” – those chores that lead us into that go-go-go pace – and reorient to the vision of how the world could be if Compassion was our guiding principle for our actions.  Steeping oneself in Living Water, being nourished by Bread of Life.  A time to understand the holy message: Do not fear.

So this leave I am on is your gift to me of time away from “regular duties”.  It am offered the freedom to make space for this kairos time.  It’ll be like slowing down the merry-go-round – not because the ride isn’t enjoyable, but to see who else is on it, explore what other features there are, be fascinated by the tune of the calliope. A time to reboot, to nourish my spirit, mind and body which (like most other people) the run-of-life interferes with.

The “plan” is to ruminate on ideas I’ve only had a chance to skim; literally to chew on ideas that are trying to germinate.  To renew some disciplines in order to harness my energy differently so I can use it more effectively in my service here. To clear out some of the physical and internal detritus that makes me feel separated from the Holy, that inhibits me (or at least makes me unsure and unsteady) “shining my little light” in a good way. To recalibrate to my call of being here.

You folks of Cornerstone have given me this gift of sabbatical time; I do not take lightly.  I am profoundly grateful for this time to renew, to reboot, and be ready to come back to the work that I am called here to do.  Thank you.

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*Mckinely Valentine has a great blog on “Kairos time”, which she describes as “the moment  after you’ve inhaled and are just about to exhale”; check it out mckinleyvalentine.com/kairos

** Image from: wendybattino.com