Contemplative Life

News from Bill on Sabbatical

Dear Friends and Fellow Pilgrims,

It is a great grace to be writing to you from a place of deep rest and wonder in the middle of sabbatical!  I’m writing with a brief update on the time thus far and also with great thanksgiving.  Yes, thank you for your prayers for me and our family!  It’s been so good and I’ll share a bit more about that below.  And yes, thank you to the Coracle board for creating this time and to Jeff and our whole team who make it possible.  It’s a great gift and exciting to know that Coracle is not only in good hands in my absence, but even moving strongly forward over this summer.  Thanks to each one of you who has donated to the Sabbatical Fund to help us with some of our costs, it means so much!  And thanks be to God who started meeting me deeply before the first day was even over!

My time started April 16 with 5 days at Mepkin Abbey, a Trappist monastery in South Carolina.  The time there was so very rich with God that as I was driving away at the end of the week I wrote, “This sabbatical could be over right now and I would have gotten what I needed!”  There’s lots to say about that time, but for now I’ll just say that God is utterly gorgeous, vibrant, very alive, very present to me and to you, and amazing.  Also during that week our offer was accepted on a lovely house in Falls Church, VA and we got word about the availability of a perfect ministry space in south Arlington, both spaces for me site unseen.  Jeff recently wrote about that here, and again God is truly remarkable, as are God’s human hands who made those things possible while I was in a monastery 500 miles away!

Then after several weeks at Corhaven that included some hiking, fly-fishing, and spending good time with the family, I went out to Wyoming and Colorado for 10 days for more hiking and fly-fishing, and this time being with friends new and old. (In this photo: At almost 9,000 feet above Encampment, Wyoming thanks to Refuge.)  It’s hard not to encounter God in the mountains of the American West, and God met me powerfully there too in the beauty of nature and the beauty of all people and every created thing (which is everything).

In early June, Tara and I left with the kids for six weeks in Europe, mostly in Italy and Greece (specifically Crete) with a little bit of London at the end to see dear friends.  At the time of this writing we’re about a week in, having just finished our time in Rome and Assisi, both of which were incredible.  For a guy like me, visiting such places (like St. Peter’s Basilica – see photo) is sort of like my Disneyland.  It’s so refreshing to be swimming in the context of the ancient and global church, and more so to be constantly swimming in the loving presence of Jesus and the shining glory of God, wherever you are.  The whole sabbatical so far has felt like that, and I expect the rest will be like that, and I want to live a whole life like that.

Near the end of July I’ll head out to New Mexico for a week with a dear friend for (wait for it…) more hiking, fly-fishing, and three days at Christ in the Desert, another Trappist monastery as the last thing, as it was the first thing.

And then our family will move the first week of August, and our next journey will begin.  I’m very excited about that.  God has been so clear and so faithful, as Jeff will say, “God’s paved the road in front of us”, and it feels like it.

Upon returning, throughout the fall, and likely into next year, I look forward to putting into writing or speaking some of the experiences and insights that have come since the sabbatical began.  For now I’ll simply say it’s been more than I could have asked or imagined in terms of the breadth and depth with how God has met me, pretty much constantly. 

I’d offer by way of suggestion the first book I read in mid-April, which helped light the fire that this sabbatical has been, The Love That is God by Frederick Bauerschmidt.  It’s simple, pure, beautiful, and true.  He opens with this, “Being a Christian is difficult. It is difficult because love that goes all the way to the cross is difficult, both to receive and to give.”

I’m trying to learn Instagram and post meaningful photos at least every couple of days, and you can follow me here or on Facebook here.

Thanks again friends for your prayers during this season of rest.  I’m grateful, God is so very good, and I’m super excited to return in August to the thrilling journey that’s in front of Coracle, and I look forward to doing that with you.

On the journey,

PS: On the very first night of sabbatical, I got to know a new (dead) friend thanks to an introduction by Margot Eyring.  Will Campbell was a remarkable and courageous Civil Rights leader from Mississippi, totally motivated by his love of Jesus, his commitment to Scripture, and recognizing the image of God in _every_ human being, including Klan members.  There’s a lot about this guy that I’d love to live into more fully and consistently.

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