Friday, August 18, 2023

Stop. Sabbatical time!

For six years you may sow your field, and for six years prune your vineyard, gathering in their produce.
But during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath of complete rest, a sabbath for the LORD, when you may neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard.

Leviticus 25:3-4

I knew it had been a while since the last time I posted something on my blog, but I had not realized that it's been nearly 10 years since my last post! I'm a little out of practice, but here goes...

No worries. I'm not going to give a recap of the past 10 years. I don't think you're here for that. Mostly, I thought this would be the best way to share about my sabbatical year for folks who would like updates. I thought about sending out occasional emails, but I would need to find out who wants email updates and (perhaps more importantly) who doesn't. So, it's better to put out these blog posts and let you decide whether to read them. 😁😁

Before I launch into this first part of my sabbatical year, let me briefly explain the concept of sabbatical. It is the same idea as resting on the sabbath day of the week. It is recognizing that in our lives, we need times of rest, fun, rejuvenation, prayer, relationships (with God, self, and others), and renewal. A sabbatical is a more extended Sabbath day. 

The first part of my sabbatical is more about renewal and growth than about rest or rejuvenation. I am participating in a 10-week workshop for Marianist religious (FMI & SM) who are new to formation work or who are about to enter formation work. So, those of us who accompany or will accompany our newer religious.

I left Cincinnati, Ohio, on an 11:08 AM flight on Sunday, August 13, and arrived in Nairobi, Kenya 29 hours later - around 9 PM local time on Monday, August 14. I had a scheme worked out so that the time change wouldn't be terrible for me. Basically, I left Cincinnati really tired so that I could sleep across the ocean. Even though it would be the middle of the afternoon in Ohio, it was nighttime in Nairobi, so I wanted to sleep at the time I would sleep when I arrived. I think folks thought the idea was ridiculous. But, I tell you what... it worked! I slept on the flight to Frankfurt, Germany, and was awake all day Monday so that I could sleep once I arrived at the retreat center. 

We're staying at the retreat center of the Dimesse Sisters - a congregation founded in Italy. Their official name... the Daughters of Mary Immaculate (FMI)! Crazy. I knew there was another FMI congregation out there, but I didn't realize that they had the exact same name. I suppose that's why we put (Marianist) after our name. 

It's my first time on the African continent. So, I was pretty excited about that. On Saturday, August 19, we will take our first excursion away from the retreat center grounds. We're heading to a nature reserve called Giraffe Centre (British spelling, of course). I'm looking forward to seeing more of the area. 

Anyway, let me give you a brief synopsis of a few things we've done, things that I've noticed, or that have struck me for some reason. In no particular order...
  • Of the 29 participants, 8 are from India - 2 FMIs and 6 SMs. Our first full day here was Indian Independence Day. It was also Korean Independence Day, and we have one SM here from Korea. We celebrated at a social that evening with the Indian National Anthem (I believe) & Bosco from Korea joined in: 

  • The margarine set out each day at breakfast has as its description, "Fat Spread." How's that for truth in advertising!
  • We have the option of paying the staff a minimal fee to do our laundry, or we can do it ourselves. Well, I'm not a fan of paying people to wash my dirty clothes, so I decided I'd do it myself. Well... I went into the laundry room and quickly realized that doing it yourself means doing it by hand. I thought, "I can do this." And yes, I can. But it took me forever, and I'm not really sure my socks and t-shirts are actually clean or that all the soap is out ... I think I'll swallow my pride and pay the fee for them to wash my socks, pants, and shirts. But I'll continue to do my intimates myself. 😏
  • Because many of the Brothers here have studied at the Univ. of Dayton over the years, I keep seeing Dayton-related t-shirts. This CJ one caught me off guard, but I was happy to see it. 

  • We've spent the first few days getting an orientation to our time. Our second full day was a retreat focused on Mary as a model for formation and Joseph as a model of formation. The days have been good and full. We begin with morning prayer and meditation at 7, followed by 8 AM breakfast. At 9, we begin our morning session that goes until 12:30 (with a break for tea and snacks around 10:30). Then we're free until 3 PM when we begin with the 3 o'clock prayer outside around statues of Mary and John at the foot of the cross. Our afternoon session goes until 5:30 (with another tea/snack break). Mass is at 5:45, followed by supper. In the evenings, we may have something after supper, but so far, we haven't had an evening thing. Night prayer is at 8:30 PM, and when that's over, I typically head to bed. 
  • All of our prayer, sessions, and sharing have been either in English or French (we have a translator who speaks both - we wear headphones for sessions through which we hear his translations into English or into French). Most people here have basic knowledge of at least one of those. There are some people who are fluent in both - plus Italian, Spanish, etc. And there are some for whom English is their second, third, or fourth language, but English is the language of the community house in which they live (this is true in India, for instance). 
  • We've been using the iBreviary app for morning prayer, Mass, and night prayer. It's a sign of the times that we all staring at our phones for prayer. 📱

Okay, that's more than enough for now.  😀

Know of my prayers for you.
Nicole, FMI

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