On Sabbatical

The most basic lesson that all art teaches us is to stop, look, and listen to life on this planet, including our own lives, as a vastly richer, deeper, more mysterious business than most of the time it ever occurs to us to suspect as we bumble along from day to day on automatic pilot.  In a world that for the most part steers clear of the whole idea of holiness, art is one of the few places left where we can speak to each other of holy things.  (Frederick Buechner) 

I called it “Poems, Prayers and Paintings.”  A sabbatical proposal that I proposed was yes, more than just a riff off the name of my first and favorite record album, “Poems, paintingPrayers and Promises” by John Denver.  It’s the craft of poetry, prayers and painting that has grounded and centered me in God.

I’ve been clear what I’ve wanted to do.

Creativity takes me deep into all I call prayer, all I call God, all that is deeper awareness, presence and mystery.  I want to develop a daily rhythm of writing and painting and see where it might take me.

And I want to continue to learn how to sail.  It’s that “learning to sail” part where the “prayer” part of my sabbatical fits in.  To be creative you have to risk putting yourself out there, to step into challenge and change.  In these coming months I want to continue to explore doing things I’ve never done before or am just learning how to do.  Things that take me right into my growth – which means, yes, right into my fear.  Right there to the edge where all we call “faith” begins.   Learning to sail takes me there.

And so I begin, March 1.  Three months, followed by a month of vacation.  I’ll be back on June 30.

mr parts 008A sabbatical is a tremendous gift of time.  A rare privilege to step away from the everyday into a different way to be.  And no, I couldn’t do it without others “staying home” and providing the support here so I am able to step away.  For that gift, I am grateful beyond words.

A sabbatical means doing somethings differently.  I won’t be writing a blog.  Checking and answering my email at church or my phone messages here.

Wherever you are this spring, what might it be like to imagine “inhabiting time” a bit differently, and not just “waste”, “spend”, “use” or “fill” it?

How might you take seriously being renewed this spring in body, mind and spirit?

What might you do that you have never done before?

What might you create?

How might you make space for “not knowing” so that new ways of knowing may come?

I look forward to being back in touch in July and hearing and sharing what happened this spring in us all,



Not knowingphoto (6)
how to get out
of this sad spin
of grief
I ran
to the river
to where
the path
to the water’s

I stood,
for a long time,

Rippling waves.

At last,
I looked up.

Saw beyond,sailing alone 059
not so far away,
a boat,
the kind I could
handle and sail.

I took it,
as I do most
anything these days,
as a sign,
that what I need
shall be given.

That the path
is going
and not
so far away,
a boat
to take me there.

I ran –
home again,
that night
of wind.

Peter Ilgenfritz
January 28, 2014

11 thoughts on “On Sabbatical”

  1. Godspeed, Peter. And thanks from a deep contentment that sometimes comes up for me now for your inspiring blog and your holding of hope and connection to the possible good for so many of us in our times of need. May you find what you need in your time of reflection, play and well deserved rest.
    Blessings, Anita


  2. Will miss you as I so enjoy your sermons and blog; however, you deserve the sabbatical and vacation and I know you will get so much from them. We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers and look forward to July when you can tell us all about your time away. God be with you, Marge Maddux


  3. Blessings on your dancing journey, Peter. May you fall in love with new kinds of music and have opportunities for listening ever more deeply to the rhythms in your heart. May your feet be light as they try new patterns of steps. The path is made by walking and you have always been a courageous walker, modeling for others how to trust the Mystery that beckons us forward. Diane


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