I love this picture. It brings back very fond memories of a hike we took on a beautiful and windswept West Coast beach. What felt like a gale force wind propelled the tiny grains of sand into an abrasive "mist" that obscured the sky and "coloured" both land and seascapes shades of grey. Particles of sand and shell, created by waves crashing on the shore over untold eons, became airborne and stung all exposed flesh. Sandpaper-like, the air seemed to tear at the face and took great pleasure in depositing a nasty grit between the teeth. Yeah, it was a good day to be outside! So good that I remember creating a "way point" with my little handheld GPS - this spot had to be marked, not just as a location, but as a "memory" to be savoured and enjoyed.
Technically, a "waypoint" is a reference point in physical space, usually marked by coordinates of latitude and longitude. A waypoint establishes a significant location for the purpose of navigation. "X" marks the spot - that's pretty much it! Today, I'm setting a small "waypoint" with this blog entry. Just a few days into the first week of a study sabbatical, it just seems like a good time to mark the "trail head" of what I anticipate will be a most interesting journey of self-discovery. There will be more opportunity to observe and experience and reflect. There will be more time to be and, of course, more choice in the department of "to do". I feel deeply thankful for this opportunity - to those who have granted it and to those whose hours and efforts will increase as they generously and graciously pick up the responsibilities I have left behind for this period of time.
The word "sabbatical" comes from the Hebrew shabbat - it is a sabbath time, a time of ceasing to do what one normally does for, amongst other things, the purpose of renewal and restoration. Sabbath is often associated with "rest". My father taught me, however, that rest is over rated - the kind of rest anyway, that is, that is known as "putting your feet up". So there won't be any of that! I look forward to this time as an opportunity to read more and to write more. It will also be a time to rediscover the ability to be contemplative - so important for those of us who share this vocation and yet something most of us have little time for - which is rather ironic. It will also be a time to run more trails and paddle more shorelines of these most exquisite Gulf Islands. To what end? Ultimately, to gather together some gifts that might be shared with those who have made this possible.
So, as on that day on an isolated West Coast beach when the wind blew and the sand flew, I set a "waypoint" - a place in time and space that marks a trailhead of a journey just begun.
Peace be with you.